How to Heal a Hurting Nation
A preface is not normal for a blog, but it’s worth stating upfront that this is a difficult day and time to write. Even as I labored to thoughtfully and prayerfully select every word written here with the utmost care, my wife expressed her sincere concern that many would misunderstand the motives of my heart. But I love our church family, and that love compels me to write. We are not in insulation from the affairs of our day. We are simply left to interpret them and to determine how we will respond. The only question is, will our interpretation of our times be shaped by the Gospel or solely informed by cultural commentators’ voices and swayed by our raw emotions. With this in mind, I submit to you my thoughts on what the Bible teaches us about the church’s role in healing a hurting nation.
In a season where people seem to find disagreement on just about every topic, there is one issue that we unanimously affirm: the soul of our nation is hurting, and we are deeply divided. The tragic events of January 6 at our nation’s Capitol mark one of the ugliest days in our country’s history. Even in our most cynical moments, few of us ever imagined that we would live to see the day when fellow Americans, turned illegal trespassers, would siege the halls of one of our most sacred institutions. Just writing those words feels surreal. I must clearly and firmly state that while the vast majority of those who gathered in Washington D.C. had absolutely no intentions of violence, we now know there was a mob-like remnant who took any means necessary to achieve their misguided goals, regardless of the carnage to life or property.
While it is true that “rioting is the language of the unheard,” it is equally true that no movement will ultimately realize its desired intent for justice when their ideology has been weaponized, and their tools are destruction, no matter if it’s the quest for racial equity or honest elections. This is accurate of any endeavor. This is why we must be consistent in saying that destroying buildings or lives over frustrations of any kind will ultimately harm the very cause one is trying to advance. As Christians who find our citizenship in heaven and our calling as ambassadors of Christ to a broken world, we must never lose sight of the words of the Apostle Paul that,
“the weapons of our warfare are not earthly, but made mighty through God…”
(2 Corinthians 10:4).
Even as we process through the intense wave of emotions we all feel in the aftermath of such a dreadful hour, we must anchor our souls by remembering that we are repairers of the breach and ministers of reconciliation. However, these assignments can feel so daunting in a moment like this. How do we help to heal a hurting nation when we are hurting ourselves? As always, we must look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Any physician will tell you that the extent of the treatment prescribed to a patient must be directly proportional to the severity of the illness. America is gravely sick and needs heavy doses of grace and truth (John 1:17). It is grace that causes us to love our enemies instead of striving to conquer them. It is truth that causes us to reject the culture of revenge and distortion that have gripped the hearts of many because we know that man’s wrath will never produce the righteousness of God.
All of this begs the question, where best is grace and truth applied? The surprising and, for some, unwanted answer is that grace and truth are best applied in our relationships with people who need them most. Our culture’s tribalism teaches us that those who are on the wrong side of our views are irredeemable, unforgivable, and unworthy of our patience or mercy. After all, why would we waste our grace on someone whose actions are pure evil? Why would we attempt to reason with someone so committed to wrong thinking? When our hearts want to withhold grace and give up on truth, it is then we must remember that grace and truth are precisely what God gave us when we were on the wrong side of Christ. We needed His patient grace and loving truth, and so do they!
We must remember that grace and truth are precisely what God gave us when we were on the wrong side of Christ
If we are honest, far from highlighting our enemy’s hypocrisy, the events of the past year, in an unexpected way, serve to show how much we actually have in common with those with whom we strongly disagree. We all desire justice. It is also true that we are all vulnerable to resorting to brute force if we surpass our threshold for injustice. We all have the propensity for destroying property or lives if we feel that our cries for retribution and fairness have gone unheard. However, our sinful nature often blinds us to the log in our eye while being enraged by the spec in the eye of others. Healing our nation will require us to acknowledge that we are all sinners in need of a savior. Embracing this truth will cause us to say, in the face of our neighbor’s sin, but by the grace of God, there go I!
We need to reject the idea that just because we disagree with someone it makes them our enemy. So, if you want to heal our nation, find someone who needs forgiveness, and forgive them. Seek out someone whose heart seems hardened to the truth and befriend this individual, patiently talking with them about why Christ is worth following. Above all, never forget it’s the goodness of God that brings men to repentance, not our anger! Heavy doses of grace and truth will heal our nation.