During national unrest, uncertainty, and stressful times it is alluring to focus on the negative, complain, look for scapegoats, and escalate disagreement. Don’t wallow in that toxic swamp. It’s unhealthy and unproductive. Instead give thanks for what’s good, unite with others, find common ground, and work together to realize the belief our country was founded on–that everyone should be able to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Although our nation struggles to achieve this at times, our constitution calls for equality, unity, justice, tranquility, common defense, and general welfare. It codifies several important civil liberties like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, privacy, legal fairness, and the right to petition and vote.
These freedoms are costly and we should never take them for granted. Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day when Americans recognize those who have served in the military to help secure freedom and peace. If you know anyone who served in the military or is serving I encourage you to thank them.
Furthermore every American has a responsibility in upholding these tenets. But you shouldn’t do so merely because of patriotism. You should support a government which promotes life, liberty, happiness, and equality because these ideals point people to God who is the source of those virtues. God established government, community, marriage, family, and work as institutions to protect and serve for the purpose of helping people be saved from their deadly self-centeredness and find peace and life with God. We should not devote ourselves to the ideals or the constructs, instead we should devote ourselves to God who created them. Only then will we experience the lasting peace and fulfillment we each desire.
So when you encounter dissension, promote peace and seek solutions. The Bible encourages followers of Jesus to live at peace with everyone as much as possible (Romans 12:18). Jesus said to make peace is a blessing, because that is when you are acting as true children of God to foster reconciliation (Matthew 5:9). It’s okay to disagree with someone’s viewpoint, to protest wrongdoing, and to fight injustice, but do so in a way that honors God and seeks to benefit people. Pray for wisdom, grace, and kindness. Columnist, Kat Bogaard, suggests six practical tips for handling disagreements respectfully. Focus on facts rather than opinion. Don’t attack the person, instead present your case. Use “I” statements to reduce defensiveness. Really listen. Then recognize any good aspect of their stance. Finally, know when to move on.
Leaders, ideologies, governments, and countries rise and fall. Be a productive citizen, but realize your identity and your welfare do not rely on them. Jesus is the answer to your every need. He loves you and wants the best for you. Put your faith in God, then he will show you through Jesus, the Prince of peace, how to truly make things better. He will show you how to live and serve in the country, communities, relationships, and responsibilities he has placed you. You are meant to be an ambassador of reconciliation so others can come to know the peace, truth, security, justice, joy, and fulfillment only Jesus can provide. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
I’ll conclude with an encouragement from the apostle Paul to believers, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory…Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:1-4, 12-15).