Praising God. We should, right? But can we address the negative at the same time? Should we?
I’m addressing this today because of two conversations I had over this past week. Both conversations were with people I admire and whose Christian lives are above reproach. My husband and I were talking about this and I thought, “This would be a great post.” So let’s go.
Most Christians are unhappy with how America is progressing. The rising immorality, violence, and hatred are concerning because they go against Christian values and teachings of Christ.We are disheartened by the growing greed, substance abuse, and gun violence in our communities.
These concerns, shared by many Christians, highlight the growing disillusionment with the moral fabric of American society. Moreover, the sight of countless homeless individuals serves as a stark reminder of societal failures. As followers of Christ, it is our duty to address these societal ills with compassion and actively work towards fostering a more just and empathetic society.
Seriously, I could go on. I could write about other countries and the genocide and wars that are perpetuated every day, though few people know about it. And this is all true.
Figuring it out together
These were the things my friends and I were talking about. It was all true, but afterwards, I couldn’t help but think there was something wrong with our conversations, not in what we said but in what we didn’t say. While it was all true, it didn’t square with what I read daily in most of the Psalms. It doesn’t square with Jesus’ message. Yes, he condemned sin, but do you realize that almost all the sin he condemned was directed towards religious people?
I’m thinking this through as I write because I’m not sure myself, so I’m letting you in on my process. Maybe you and I together can figure this out. It boils down to this: how do we reconcile all that is wrong with the world with the message of hope that Jesus preached? How do we condemn evil and yet praise God? Can we have these conversations and lament about the conditions of the world and still find and express the joy that is meant to be ours, as Christ himself stated
Yes, the world seems to be in a really bad way these days but we have to remember that nothing that happens today hasn’t happened in this past. When the Bible states, “There is nothing new under the sun” that’s exactly what it means. The only difference today, perhaps, is that some things now are blatant and being pushed on us. This is real. I’m not denying any of it.
Twenty-four seven news
Indeed, the constant exposure to the challenges and issues of today’s world can be overwhelming. The media bombard us with news about conflicts, political unrest, and environmental crises. However, it is vital to remember that, throughout history, humanity has faced countless trials and tribulations. From wars and pandemics to social and economic upheavals, the course of human existence has always carried its fair share of hardships. What sets our present era apart is the rapid dissemination of information and the pervasive influence of technology, which magnifies the impact of these challenges.
But what if people were listening to our conversations? What if there were a sincere seeker or someone in a heap of trouble, would they have felt hope listening to us or despair? Would they have felt they could have approached us and asked us about our faith? (As I write, things are becoming clearer. Are they for you?)
And does that mean that in the privacy of our homes, it’s ok? Yes, and no.
Yes, because we do need safe spaces we can express our frustrations and anger. But that should never be all it is. I can compare it to this. Years ago, I wrote a post about depression where I advised those who struggle with depression to be selective with what blogs they follow. I cautioned them in that regard because many such blogs are nothing more than a dumping spot where everyone feels sorry for themselves. It’s kind of like that, isn’t it?
Flapping our gums
But with all these situations, we know that we are overcomers. Let’s take these situations to God in prayer. Instead of sounding critical, let’s remember that we are talking about people who don’t know Christ. They do not have God’s direction, nor are they seeking Him. That doesn’t excuse their behavior and they certainly need to reap what they sow.
Despite it all, we praise.
Should that affect our joy in Christ? Should that keep us from expressing our joy? Well, I’ve never read in Scripture that it should. I write this post because I’ve noticed how I’ve been caught up in this myself and maybe it will help you not to be.
This is not a call to a “mushy” love that so many suggest. Surely, we know that love is always expressed through actions? Words are usually meaningless unless backed up through our actions.
King Hezekiah and praise
This is such a good example of how to address evil. The Chronicles are the histories of the Kings of Israel and Judah. There were far more bad ones than good. But here’s the story of a good one. Please read to 2 Chronicles 30-31 to get the backstory. It’s very interesting.
Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, was one of Judah’s worst kings. He even defiled the temple. So, it’s surprising that his son turned out as good as it did. Hezekiah saw early on how far the Israelites had strayed from their faith. He saw the evil paramount throughout the land. The temple was in ruins. But more than that, the temple had been defiled. Hezekiah repaired the temple and called the people to forsake their sin. After the temple was cleansed, Hezekiah had a huge celebration to commemorate the occasion. The people came together from everywhere to offer sacrifice to God and seek his favor once again. They brought sacrifices and even kept the praise celebration going even longer than required.
So, Hezekiah acknowledged evil but then he did something about it. God’s people praised him once again. We probably don’t have the influence to combat evil on such a large scale but we can do what we can do. And only each of us know what that is.
Certainly, we should be praying about evil. I follow the lead of many of the Psalms’ authors. I pray Boldly and ask God to remove evil people by whatever He means He chooses. It’s scriptural to pray this way. Even the apostle Paul used hard words in Galatians 5:12 where he admonished those who continued to teach circumcision to go and castrate themselves! And remember, Jesus had a lot of hard words about evil; better that “it would be better to have a large millstone around their neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea than rather than cause a new believer to stumble.” Matthew 18:6.
So what do we do? We can’t always attack evil but we can support those that do. We can give financially whatever we can when we learn of a need. For example, Tim Tebow has a charity for sexual trafficked victims. There is MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. There are many organizations out there that address evil. Find one that marries will with what you are most concerned about. And be sure it is a legitimate charity. We like Samaritan’s purse.
I was getting ready to post this this morning which is why I’m late. I’m just now getting around to it. We can fight evil by doing good. Reach out to your neighbors and others. The more we bring good into the world the more evil is sent to the corner. So let’s do as much good as we can for as many people as we can, for as long as we can, and in every way we can. (That’s an old saying from somewhere.)
We cannot put our heads in the sand.
Here’s what I’m going to do.
Not pretend evil doesn’t exist.
I’m not going to overlook evil and I will continue to call evil what it is. I have no intention to pretend real evil doesn’t exist. However….
I’m going to make sure I end my conversations with hope from now on. I’m going to pretend someone might be listening to me, (of course, someone is). There is a lot to be unhappy about these days but there is so much more reason for hope and joy. While Satan might be the ruler of this world for now as Jesus himself said, God wins in the end. The church wins in the end. We win in the end. That’s a lot to feel joyful about.
Offer up praise
Praising God is an essential aspect of our faith. It allows us to express gratitude, acknowledge His blessings, and deepen our relationship with Him. However, it is equally important to address the negative aspects of life. By doing so, we can seek guidance and strength from God to overcome challenges, find comfort in difficult times, and grow in our faith.
Reflecting on both the positive and acknowledging the negative allows us to have a complete perspective and seek God’s guidance in all circumstances. Balancing praise and addressing the negative enables us to develop a deeper understanding of God’s infinite love and providence for us.
What about you? How are you doing in this regard? Or have you ever given this some thought?
Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.