How Much Depends on You?

As much as depends on you. That’s an interesting phrase. It comes from Romans 12:18 that says: If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

How does this statement fit into our pandemically driven, racially divided, finger pointing, polarized world?

More to the point, how does this statement fit into your daily life – say for example, your social media posts? (I am addressing mainly white American Christians).

How does it guide you as you express your opposition to wearing masks that you think are useless, or to the requirements put in place by your Governor that you feel are excessive? How does it guide you as you comment on the racial divide in our country that you don’t think exists, or to the slogan Black Lives Matter that you understand in a different way than Black Lives understand it?

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

If it is possible is not a convenient escape clause. In fact, it may not mean what we have always thought it meant. The old English theologian, J. B. Phillips translated it as: As far as your responsibility goes. In other words, your only responsibility is to live in peace with everyone around you. It’s not to make them happy or, in the context, to pass judgment on them. It’s just to live in peace with them. That is the Christian’s duty.

As much as depends on you does not get you off the hook. Most of our actions depend on us. Yes, there may be exceptions. Sometimes you just can’t please everyone. There will be those rare times when you can’t do anything to please the other person. But most of the time we have control over what we do. Mostly it does depend on you.

Live peaceably means to keep life calm and serene. A lot of our social media posts have just the opposite effect. They don’t promote peace.

With all men doesn’t allow for exceptions. All includes those on the opposite side of the issue. Christians have a responsibility to do all they can to bring about a calm and serene society, even for and with people they strongly disagree.

We have a duty to promote an atmosphere of calmness and serenity in a world of unrest and upheaval and, according to the following verses, leave the rest up to God.

Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others have given all of us, including Christians, the ability to spread our feelings and (often unfiltered) thoughts far and wide. Unfortunately, we have often chosen anger and hostility over peace.

We forget that we are not like other people. We answer to a higher authority. We have a greater responsibility. We have a divine duty in this world. We represent the highest and greatest kingdom ever to exist.

So, as far as your responsibility goes, promote peace, even with those who promote hatred and anger.

Stay in the Word,
Pastor Steve

Look to the Cross

These are crazy, stressful days. A world-wide pandemic, police brutality, social upheaval, riots, looting, angry words, bitter disagreements, competing narratives, racial divisions, and misunderstandings driven by different world views have ripped the fabric of our country into a thousand pieces.

Our nation has become so divided that people are suspicious of anyone with a skin color that is different from theirs; of actions that they can’t explain; of words that seem to have hidden meanings; of the possible unspoken intentions that words might or might not carry.

One of the sad parts of the world in which we find ourselves is that it doesn’t matter if you are in the church or out of the church it’s the same. It shouldn’t be that way but it is, at least for some people.

Is there an answer? For the church that is. Do we have an answer for how we should think about these things and how we respond to them?

There is. It’s the Cross. The Cross is the starting point for everything in the Christian experience.

The Cross changed it all, and it continues to be the compass for our lives.

It was at the Cross that anger met calmness. At the Cross hatred met love. At the Cross blame met forgiveness. At the Cross suspicion met trust. At the Cross guilt met innocence. At the Cross hostility met unity. At the Cross accusation met acceptance. At the Cross aggression met kindness. At the Cross violence met peace. At the Cross sin met holiness.

And the Cross won every time.

As Christians we are people of the Cross. We have been changed by the man of the Cross. We have been soaked in the blood of the Cross. And we have been sent with the message of the Cross.

Allow your mind, how you think about the issues we are facing to be controlled by the Cross. Make sure your words, whether written, spoken or simply thought are directed by the Cross. Let your life be a reflection of the Cross.

The Power to live the Christian life is intimately tied to the Cross.

For the word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us, who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Stay in the Word,
Pastor Steve