Charles Dickens’ opening line of “A Tale of Two Cities” seems apropos in our present American climate.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
We are fast approaching a new Presidential election campaign season. It is inevitable, the rhetoric will be a blazing inferno of accusation, false pretense, agenda massaged information, and bombastic claims. It feels like none of that really stopped after the 2016 election.
Most reading this are pretty well-versed in the hot button topics. While politicians pontificate and the media fact checks, the vast majority of society sits in the midst feeling a significant tension. Articulating our thoughts and beliefs thrusts us into a minefield of anger, rejection, name calling, shaming, and the scrutiny of our allegiance to nation and faith.
I won’t fancy it up with flowery language. You and I both agree, society at large has many problems. However you feel about guns…we know violent death is an evil. No matter how nuanced your thoughts on abortion…promiscuity, poverty, violation, and irresponsibility are a plague. Whatever your biological and theological thoughts on homosexuality…shame, fear, rejection, confusion, and loneliness are substandard human experiences. Regardless your ethnicity…racism and prejudice are deplorable.
As a son of God and a follower of Jesus, empowered and commissioned by the Holy Spirit, I have the responsibility of crashing into all of these issues and more with the full force of the Good News. When I see a wrong, through the finished work of Christ, I am to lead the way in wrongs being made right. I do not have the privilege of ignoring the pain of humanity or the darkness of society. No, I am not that elite. I am a slave to Christ. A bondservant tasked by my Master with the objective of stepping into the fray.
Having said all of the above, it is incredibly difficult to watch the world around us run amuck, and not become tainted. It is incredibly challenging to stave off being jaded, cynical, disillusioned, angry, territorial, obstinate, and unforgiving. It is so arduous, watching social media, listening to politicians, watching the “news”, and maintaining a tender, kind, love-filled heart.
I am confident of this…
If we will do the hard work of guarding our hearts above all else, if we will labor intentionally to think on that which is pure, noble, true, and lovely…
We will see an incomparable season of light in the midst of the darkness.
We will experience the best in the middle of the worst.
We will thrive in wisdom while surrounded by foolishness.
We will believe when others can no longer muster the ability to believe.
We will be a springtime people of hope to a winterized world of despair.
Friend, lover of God, servant of the Most High, contender in the faith, hang in there, guard your heart, don’t take on offense, refuse an anger soiled soul, deny yourself the privilege of being cynical, and reject the wooing of frustration.
You are better than that. We are better than that.
The world needs us to be better than that.
Let’s retry Dickens…
“It is the best of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the epoch of belief, it is the season of light, it is the spring of hope.”
If it is a “tale of two cities”…we are a city on a hill.