We’re a country divided. At least it sure seems that way. I can’t tell if the hate is increasing or if the love that exists is just not considered newsworthy. I have to say, there has to be some redeeming news out there, some sense of the spirit of brotherhood on which our country was founded.
The thing is, we’re spending so much time arguing with, blaming, yelling at, and unfortunately at times killing one another that maybe there is no room for love. It makes me think that Jesus could just as well have been speaking to the US when He says over Jerusalem in Matthew 23, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
At the risk of sounding overly melancholy, I have to say it’s disappointing to think about where our country finds itself today. It reminds me a bit of a post I saw on Facebook some weeks ago … a picture with the caption on it that said, “Don’t judge me because your sins are different than mine!” You see, we spend an awful lot of time focusing on everyone else’s misgivings and sins; we spend an awful lot of time deflecting our misgivings and sins; we spend far too little time opening our hearts to God and letting Him change us.
As I finished reading through the Psalms at the end of June, I started to think I needed to read through the Gospels and started doing so last week. My plan is to read however much of the Gospels each day as I feel God leads me, and just to continue reading until I’m done with the Gospels … and start all over again, reading through them as many times as I get through between now and the end of the year. No goal. No target. Just letting God speak to me. So that’s where I found myself this week as I read through the Gospel of Matthew. Especially in light of the situation in Dallas, Minnesota, Louisiana, etc., this week, my heart was moved in Matthew 7:1-3 (ESV) …
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
I almost feel like I can stop writing, that the passage speaks for itself. I mean, if this isn’t an anthem for our society and our world today, what is? It was one of the striking things about reading through Matthew’s Gospel this week … how much the first century words of Jesus applied to all of us 20 centuries later.
When someone expresses the sentiment, “Don’t judge me because your sin is different than mine,” I get it. We all tend to qualify or rank other people’s sins more highly or more egregiously than we do our own. I’m no less guilty than anyone else. But if we use that sentiment to push away or deflect our sins in totality, then I think we’re suffering an overextension upon ourselves. This is where I think our society is going wrong today. We seem to focus on the failures of others so that we can avoid confronting our own failures.
If all of us were dying of malaria, it wouldn’t negate the fact that we EACH had malaria. To the extent I point out your malaria, it isn’t to accuse or condemn you for it. And by me pointing out yours, I’ve not cured myself of my own. In fact, I think we can all agree that pointing out your malaria, even if it’s a more severe case than mine, does NOTHING to cure me of my own malaria. And such is the case with the one disease from which we all presently suffer. Sin.
Our world is sinful. It’s a substantially fatal, incurable disease without THE cure … Jesus. Jesus is the ONLY cure for the disease of sin, and He is the ONLY cure we require. Without Him, though, we are helplessly and hopelessly condemned. No matter how much I point out your sin disease, I am not curing my own. I may help myself feel better about myself, but I am still terminally ill. It’s the one thing we all have in common.
The other thing we have in common in this sense is just the same as my pointing out your sin doesn’t cure mine, it certainly doesn’t do any benefit for yours. If you have malaria, me telling you that you have malaria isn’t likely to help you get cured of malaria. Today in our country, we’re spending so much time telling each other we have a disease 1) to make us feel better for our having the EXACT same disease, and 2) in the false and foolish hope that telling someone is going to help cure them.
Now … before you comment or email me … I understand the importance of pointing out our sin issue, particularly for those that aren’t aware of their sin issue. If I help to diagnose your malaria before you were aware of it, chances are I’ve probably helped you survive it in some small (or not so small) way. I think it’s perfectly biblical to help someone realize their sin diagnosis, so long as it’s one in a reverent, honorable, loving, truthful, and transparent way as relates to our own diagnosis. There’s clearly a difference between that and throwing it in someone’s face for the purpose of deflecting our own disease or comparatively making them feel worse about their sin disease so we feel less diseased somehow.
Bottom line … the only way we’re going to change our society and change our world is by letting God change us … change our hearts … heal our disease. We can’t change other people. We can’t even change ourselves. Only God can do that. If we want the cure for the plague of the world (sin), we have to let the ONLY one with the cure … Jesus … cure us. Only us. He alone can cure others. The one thing we have in common regardless of race, religion, political affiliation, etc., is that we’re all terminally ill … we all have a disease that ONLY Jesus can cure … and we all can only tend to our own disease. We cannot cure others. Only God can.
Lord, I’m the worst of all the sinners You created. Please change my heart, my mind, my desires to those that would please You, honor You, and glorify You. And help my cure somehow become a cure You can use for others. Amen.
Soli Deo gloria!