Rev. Stephen E. Stults
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
5th Sunday in Trinity 2020
July 12, 2020
“Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
What words for today! Considering the crazy environment today, amid the host of competing agendas, how can we have anything but a mass of confusion? It seems as if we cannot.
What began as largely peaceful protests have become the fertile ground for civil disobedience and widescale destruction. Large, global forces of evil are encompassing us and threatening our liberty and our nation itself. It is likely those who wish to abolish national sovereignty in favor of a “global” government are using these occurrences to fund and to foment radical destruction of our history and heritage. There are many voices clamoring to be heard, often by any means necessary, including violence.
Some of these ideas are truly radical and completely nonsensical, such as the demand to defund local police departments. We are already witnessing the uptick in murder and violent crime in cities like Chicago and New York, where these revolutionary ideas have taken root. If one has forgotten (or never known about) the radical days of 1968, when riots and violent demonstrations rocked the country, one might be tempted to think that this is the worst. It is not. It is bad, true. It is probably one of the more unsettling times we have lived through, but it is not the worst.
Those who lived through the Blitz in London, when the Nazi bombers tore parts of London down, or lived through the recent destruction of Syria would differ in opinion. Those who lived through the Siege of Stalingrad would also disagree. Horrible times, to be sure.
This is not to downplay what is going on currently. It is bad. Yet, this will pass. The question is, is there an answer to this maelstrom of disagreement and discord?
There is. There has always been an answer, but it is one to which the World will not cling, except in times of extreme distress. Why is it that we forget this answer, often until the train is literally going off the track? What is wrong with the World?
Part of it is our natural perversity, and part of it deals with our need to create our own God. Recalling the words of a wise old Sunday School teacher: “There is a God, and you are not it.” How true.
Yet, we try. I constantly marvel at my sons’ and the generations after them. They reject the old rules of Christianity; and have created “scads” of new rules for dating, relationships, and social conduct. The rules are often quite strict, and quite merciless. Violate them and one is cut off immediately.
Let’s look at St. Peter’s words for some better context. He tells us: “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, be pitiful (meaning full of pity, piteous) be courteous, not rendering evil for evil…” Just this portion is a huge task. It is something that is not largely done, overall.
Yet, we must try. Recalling the Summary of the Law, we know there are two things we must do as Christians: Love God with all of our being and love each other as we love ourselves. Both seem so simple, yet we find them so difficult!
First, how do we love God? Those of us in the household of faith worship Him, certainly. But why? Simply because He is so worthy of it! We recognize that all things were created by God; they exist for and by His Pleasure. He delights in His Creation. We should delight in Him as the Author and Giver of all good things. We should: “Go our ways into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; and speak good of His Name.” Is that so hard? Is it truly difficult to give thanks and praise to the One who does all things well?
Apparently for some, it is. Call it blinded sight, or a dormant faith, or simply a spirit seared by sin, but it creates a huge obstacle for some. They are unable to open their eyes and see. Pray for them.
Second, we must love each other as ourselves. Again, how easy to say, but so difficult to do. How do we do this? First, listen to Christ. He said, “treat others the way you would have them treat you.” Simple, no? Difficult to do, yes! For the life of me, I do not know why, except to blame my own inherent selfishness. Frequently, I am reminded with someone with whom I live closely, that the world does not revolve around me. Here it is: think of others before you think of yourself.
If all of us would be of one mind, the mind of Christ, and adopt these two rules, how blessed we would be! If we could just love God first, and then love our fellow man as we love ourselves, most of life’s difficulties would diminish greatly.
If we strive for something in this life, perhaps this should be it.
“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith. THOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”