One thing we can all count on in this life is that things will change. Our lives are made up of the choices we make every day; and the choices I make today are going to navigate and shape my future. There are many things that are out of a person’s control, but we still have the freedom to choose how we deal with life’s obstacles. These choices not only shape the future, but our character is being developed as well.
The Apostle Paul illustrates this in his letter to the Roman church. He suggests that trying times can, in fact, produce godly character. This is, of course, with the individual’s cooperation, because a hardship can make or break an individual. In Romans 5: 3-5 Paul states, “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” In this statement, however, this profound work only takes place with the help of the Holy Spirit and Gods love which he puts in a man’s heart. On our own, and left to our own devices, trials can lead us away from the Lord.
In our nation, and also globally, everyone is experiencing dramatic changes due to the recent health crisis, and other social and economic factors. These changes have impacted our culture in many ways, and there has been a broad range of responses to these critical changes. With all of that has come a division that makes us vulnerable as a people. Somehow, the idea has formulated that if we disagree, we no longer care for each other. This is a tragedy. We do not need to have the same response to a crisis to still be able to maintain common decency and a commitment to love our neighbors, no matter how different we may be.
God does not need to change. He is without flaw. However, as humans, when we stop changing, we stop growing. If I were to stop listening to my fellow human beings and show empathy, even when I do not agree, then I would be part of the problem. God wants to use this time of dramatic change to help us truly learn to love one another, the way he loves us; and he promises we will not be faulted for it. I believe it is time to make a stand to allow God to change our hearts in love and unify us as a people, especially as a nation. In this process of commitment God is changing me, and he can change us as a culture, too. The disciples asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” He said, “In these the law is fulfilled.”
I am certainly speaking to my Christian brothers and sisters, but I am also speaking to all people, nationalities, colors and backgrounds, whatever they may be. Let us make a commitment today to be kind to one another, especially those who are at odds with us. It was the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said it best, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I implore you today, whoever is reading this, to make a stand with me for love, for kindness and compassion; and let God heal our divisions and our nation.
Mandy Nevarez is one of the pastors at New Life Assembly of God. Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.