Our nation is in a great deal of pain right now. In many ways it doesn’t seem right to complain because we are not fighting a major war, nor are we suffering from famine or plague. Even the horrific storms we suffered in late summer are something that we tell ourselves bring out the best in Americans. Life is good but nevertheless we are in pain.
The greatest source of our pain is an old wound that has never really healed. Slavery was our original sin and the injuries that were and are caused by that sin have lingered long after 620,000 soldiers and one president had to die in a war that was fought because of sin’s infection. I know that it is easy for white people to say that no one who is alive has ever been a slave, but as a white man I have listened to enough honest, pained stories to know that it takes more than bullets and laws to heal the aftereffects of hatred and injustice.
That said the pain of sin is not felt by only one race. I have many white friends who grew up despising racism but have grown cynical because of the feeling that no matter what they do or say they will still be branded as racists. These friends have comfortable lives and their pain is not so much based on any personal suffering as it is on the fear that the nation they love is doomed to be divided and destroyed from within.
What can we do? In some ways nothing. We are paying for the sins of our forefathers as celebrities and politicians seek to profit from our frustration. We cannot build a time machine and go back 400 years to prevent slavery from ever coming to America. We cannot pass a law that will magically bring hope to the people of Baltimore, Ferguson and Appalachia. We cannot silence the anger of the news media and Facebook. In recent weeks we have not even been able to watch football together in peace.
The situation is not hopeless however. We are followers of Jesus Christ. Without denying the world’s problems or our own frustrations we can remember, proclaim and live for a Higher Truth. God has made us all. Through Jesus Christ we are all offered forgiveness and given new things to live for. We can even be restored to right relationships with one another, though the restorative process is often long and challenging. We need to remember the hope that we have. The world needs to know that it exists.
Mount Oak is far from the largest church in the Capitol area but we have a great gift and a great calling. In a world that is divided on many levels we are not all the same race nor are we all the same political party. Truthfully the only thing we have in common is our faith in Jesus Christ and our determination to serve Him. Prince Georges County needs to see more Christians who can live on that basis.
Let us be who God has called us to be. Let us show the world, or at least anyone who is looking, that there is a better way. Let our light so shine before men (and women too!) that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. It will matter to people we haven’t even met yet. It will matter to us.