6-4-2020 – e-News

I don’t know about you, but I am increasingly disturbed by all that is going on around us.
I can literally read one article or watch one news story that tells me COVID-19 cases are on the rise and we are all in danger and then find another one that says everything is stable and we can’t open up fast enough. Some doctors and scientists say masks are a necessary preventative tool. Others essentially say masks are a waste of time. People have picked a side on this issue and have taken to dismissing those on the other side right away, sometimes flippantly or condescendingly. That’s just COVID-19.
Then we could talk politics, because everything is political these days. One headline says Person A said or did something. Hours later another one says that didn’t happen or it was taken out of context and, in reality, it’s Person B’s fault. People have again picked sides already and no one is willing to listen to the other. In fact, they think the other side is half crazy anyway. It’s exasperating!
Then we come to the far more serious and pressing issue of racial division in our country. No reasonable person is defending the actions that led to the deaths of the black jogger Ahmaud Avery in Georgia or George Floyd in Minneapolis. Those are clear injustices. At the same time, I don’t think any reasonable person will defend lawlessness, looting and riots. Those are clear injustices too. Tragically, we aren’t talking about the real issues that got us here in the first place. We aren’t hearing each other’s stories, talking about our real fears and concerns or working together for solutions. People are just picking sides and getting distracted. It’s tragic.
People seem to be on a razor’s edge, appearing calm and collected one minute and furious and explosive the next. You see it poured out on social media, in personal conversations and, in some cases, in literal acts of violence and hate.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
If you are serious about being a Christian, that passage will hit you in the gut with conviction and blow your mind with all its vast implications. I don’t want to deny myself anything. I don’t want to suffer any pain or inconvenience. I don’t want to lose any rights or benefits that I have. But there is no getting around it, if I follow Jesus, all that should happen to me and all that will happen to me.
Let me ask you a big question: In all that is going on right now, where have you denied yourself for the sake of others, suffered pain or inconvenience because you belong to Jesus or lost some right or benefit of yours in this world because of your bigger love for the rights and benefits of the next?
As part of our Christian discipleship, there will always be things we are denying ourselves. There will always be places where we are suffering pain and inconvenience. There will always be places where we give up our rights and benefits. Here are a couple I’m wresting with right now:
I’m personally skeptical about the benefits of a mask, but I’ll wear one for others. It’s a small denial in the end and I think it honors Jesus.
As a white man, I know I have not had the same experiences and fears of some of my friends of color. In this time, I am trying hard to be humble, to ask questions and to try and understand. James said we should be “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19). If I’m going to be part of the solution, I think that’s the place to start. I’m fully convinced that there will be places where I will have to lose along the way. When those times come, I hope Jesus will be glorified in me.  
How about you?
Pursuing Him Together!
Pastor Jim
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