Respect and Focus During Confusion
Experience working in the secular and non-profit world has provided many opportunities to come across interesting actions and activities that at the least, disappoint you, and in some cases cause significant strife. The recent announcement by the Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage has caused quite a response from all sides of the issue. The attack on the AME Church in Charleston has been similar as now it seems everyone wants to re-write history and remove all symbols of the Confederacy. Add this to the uproar over the Affordable Care Act and the United States could be described as a country in chaos at the moment. We pray that all on every side of the issues will settle down and see each for what it is.
I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. I do not agree with many actions taken by others that come into conflict with this belief, but I still respect those that do. Unfortunately, the spin that seems to dominate the headlines is that if you are on one side, you must be totally against the other as people. That is not the case. Throughout time there have been many that come into disagreement over issues, actions taken by those in power, etc. and rarely does digging your heels in and refusing to talk settle anything. You may feel that your side is correct and there is no way the other side has any leg to stand on. That's fine, but you can still respect your fellow man.
Jesus made it very clear in His teachings that we are to never to lose focus of Him, and at all times don't allow human actions to trump our faith in Him. That in no way means we have to accept every thing that the people around us decide to do. We must stand up for our faith, live it 24/7, and work to enhance our society based on our beliefs. The very fact that I don't agree with you may cause some conflict, but that in no way affects my friendship and love for who you are as a person. Truthfully, there is not an organization, ministry, or business where every single person fully agrees on everything, but we still have common goals that we work together to achieve. We must do this despite our differences.
We may not agree, and should be able to freely express our opinions without attack or unfair labels being thrown toward each other. Pride is a very dangerous thing and sometimes it gets in the way of people standing up for what they believe. History on the other hand, cannot be changed and should be used to learn about our past and hopefully make the country better for having gone through that time in the past. There were good people on both sides of the Civil War. There were also bad. Many of the leaders of both sides were men of significant strengths who shaped American history, an example being Robert E. Lee, the son of Revolutionary War Hero Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee, and a top graduate of West Point. In fact, Lee was so respected that even during the Civil War, General Grant treated Lee with the utmost respect and Lee the same to Grant. In fact, Lee would go on to support U.S. President Andrew Johnson's plan for Reconstruction after the War. An instant reaction to wipe them from places of prominence or history is both illogical and an effort to change history or punish the past. Heck, he who has not sinned, cast the first stone. Let's focus on the future and learn from our past.
The bottom line is this…respect the rights of all to believe what they choose to believe. Don't take a stance against another's belief and call them a bigot, racist, or worse and seek to understand their point of view. I have many friends who I think very highly of that do not hold my same beliefs. I do not agree with them, but this difference will not cause me to think any different of our relationship. When it comes to public leaders, if I do not like their actions, beliefs, etc. then I as an individual, am in a position to work to find leaders whose beliefs are more in line with mine. It is the same right as everyone else. What we cannot stand for is forcing a belief on someone just because we believe it to be true. No one should be forced to participate in something that is in conflict with their faith, and they should not be criticized for taking a stance that is different.
Jesus taught us to rejoice in Him, always. I believe in Him and will do as directed, regardless of what happens around me. A follower of Jesus is called to stay focused in our faith and to live it missionally every single day of our lives. We are not perfect, we make mistakes and many things around us make us angry. We must not let these things take away our focus to follow Him. In the end, that is very source of the Love we all seek.
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