In a bone-chilling display of barbarity, 4 African-Americans assaulted, tortured, berated, and dehumanized a Caucasian man for hours, broadcasting their wickedness live on social media. How in the world could this happen in 21st Century America? I am not nostalgic. I understand that inhumane acts have been part of the human experience since “The Garden,” but the boldness with which these acts were committed and the associated callousness, is shocking. Perhaps one reason we as a nation are seeing an increase in the boldness with which abominable acts are committed has to do with our fixation of style over substance and appearances over reality.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 15, it is recorded that Jesus was confronted by religious leaders of his community because he and his disciples did not engage in ritualistic hand-washing before eating. Jesus responded to their accusations by asking them why they used the fulfillment of ritualistic traditions as an excuse to bypass righteous living, as exemplified in their refusal to use their money to help their elderly parents because they designated those funds as being “devoted to God!” Those leaders were very concerned about “politically correct” appearances, while totally ignoring truly righteous living. Jesus called them to pay less attention to external appearances and to focus instead on the cultivation of the heart. Could our fixation on countless transgressions of politically correct style, be causing us to ignore the internalization of true righteousness that leads to transformed hearts and minds that help and heal rather than hurt and destroy? I fear this latest outrage is one manifestation among many that the answer is “yes.” We cannot offer any excuses to such evil. We must call it out, confront it, suppress it and teach those within our spheres of influence what true righteousness looks like and exemplify it in our own lives as we teach.
This Sunday, I will begin a preaching series called, “Calibrating Ourselves for Service in 2017.” During each Sunday in this month, I will be addressing topics that call those who claim to follow Jesus to re-calibrate themselves for His service as I re-calibrate myself as a servant of God and people. The topics are these:
1. Living Beyond Political Correctness – January 8
2. Pressing On When Life Doesn’t Make Sense – January 15
3. How Do We Love One Another? – January 22
4. The Confidence to Face Giants – January 29
I hope you’ll join me in taking a personal inventory and endeavoring to move beyond appearances and moving on to truly righteous living. The stakes are high. Time is short. I can’t fix the world, but I can put my hands to work in my own backyard. Grab your calibration tools, and follow me!