Thursday, June 29, 2017


July 4th is a special day in our country. It's the day when we celebrate being Americans and hopefully we give thanks for being among the most blessed people God ever made. Like many holidays, July 4th is a family day, of sorts. Most people get some time around the 4th and we barbecue and eat and party and enjoy our families. My wife loves fireworks, not the kind that I could do, but the professional show that many towns put on now. Spartanburg has a Red, White and Boom time. For a few minutes we gather with neighbors and strangers and family and look up to the sky at the colorful fireworks.

I always try to take my vacation time around the 4th, and our familes join us as they can. It's a time of relaxation and joy. It should be.

As Chrisitans, we don't worship government, certainly. Look what the government did to Jesus. All government is inherently oppressive, some more, some less so. Truly a democatric republic like the US is greatly different from a Communist government. I think it was Churchill who said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest. In a democracy, everyone, at least in principle, has a voice.

Of course, there's not perfect government or country, not even our own. There is much to be done in the way of learning better ways to communicate and care for each other. We Chrisitians has been taught from early on that there are two great commandments: Love God and love you neighbor. And, as Christians, we are joining with others in community to do our best to express what it means to love our neighbor.

I think it's true that as Christians we are called to care to the least among us. There are some who won't eat and will never make unless we provide a basic foundation for them. I think that every person deserves to eat, especially when the rest of us are eating so much that we have weight problems. I am coming to see that maybe health care is a part of this whole care for neighbor stuff.

I also think that we Christians might teach the world, and our country that there are better ways to treat each other, except that we Christians have been the worst at it. Often, even Christians, are mean and hurtful to those with whom we disagree. We treat other Christians as if they are stupid since we are so smart and right.

I think Jesus gives us the key to all relationships: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Not the better known statement: Do unto others before they do unto you. What if there is more to life than winning all the time? What if in the midst of all this anger and hurt and pain we Christians hold the key to it all in Christ? Treat each other as Jesus treated all. Easier said than done, I know, but essential in a divided and hateful world.

Now, I'm well aware that when you add politics and power to the mix that it gets more difficult. But, what if God is calling us even now to lead others down the right road of justice and mercy and compassion.

For a few minutes this 4th, say thanks to God. Say your thanks out loud. We have so much to be grateful for. We are so blessed so that we might be a blessing to others. I see this miracle of faith worked out every day somewhere. And, while you're praying, ask God to show you where you might dig in a little deeper into this world to be a more effective witness for Jesus Christ in all of life.

Like the hymn we pray: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. So be it!

Happy birthday, America!

Dave Nichols

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