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(034) A Hard Word

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Unknown

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” – Isaiah 5:20

“… But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” – Matthew 11:19b

“Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgement.” – John 7:24

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” – Edmund Burke

The tragedy in Afghanistan has taken on way too many dimensions ... military failure, political upheaval, societal devastation, economic collapse, humanitarian disaster, spiritual conflict, etc. Yet, a couple of weeks removed, and we are already subconsciously saying to ourselves, "Afghanistan is so far away." However, we must remember that our failures HERE at home in the US have far-reaching consequences that can and do affect our brothers and sisters around the world.

Many of us generally avoid discussions that even border on politics, much less those that step squarely into the middle of that conversational minefield. It has been “safer” and more “comfortable” for us to avoid these discussions all together than to attempt to engage in a thoughtful dialogue with those who may disagree with us. This is true both in the world at large and, even more so, in the Church where we justify this avoidance in the name of unity and love.

I use the term “minefield” intentionally. It has become increasingly difficult to have an honest conversation, even within the church, about issues that are contentious. Anger, hatred and malice, which are obviously not fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), have become so prevalent in the church that we have “lost our saltiness” and so, to the world, we are simply a generally somewhat “nicer” version of itself.

Instead of iron sharpening iron, this avoidance has resulted in uniformed choices and a weak church unable to discern right from wrong (Isaiah 5:20), what is wise (Matthew 11:19b), or how to make right judgements (John 7:24), what we have traditionally called discernment. If we are unable to discern what is occurring here in the physical world around us, how are we ever to be able to discern what is happening in the spiritual world and how God is moving?

“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” – John 3:12

With so much of concern happening here in the US, we have become so distracted and self-absorbed that we don’t think about the repercussions of the things we do here that have profound impact, for good or ill, around the world. However, we must remember that service to others extends way beyond our borders and way beyond the small stories of our lives and politics.

We had a national election last year and whether you believe it was fair and reasonable or corrupted and rigged doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we now have a president that was elected in the name of a “kinder, gentler” choice and one of the results is the unprecedented devastation in Afghanistan that has and is causing the martyrdom of at least hundreds and possibly thousands of our Afghani brothers and sisters.

While many in the church could only see through the eyes of anger, hatred, and malice; many also said nothing and did not contend with those who would berate, bully, and call them names. And, while none of us could foresee the specific circumstances of this particular disaster, no matter which side you fall on, none of us should be surprised by the outcome. This was not an inevitable outcome, the blood of our Afghani brothers and sisters is on our collective hands. No, this is a situation which we, the church, could and should have worked hard to prevent.

We, the Church, at least in the west, have forgotten two very important truths - 1) the choices we make really do matter (“[God] instituted prayer in order to give his creatures the dignity of causality.” - Blaise Pascal) and 2) not everything that happens in this world is God’s will (“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” - Jesus Matthew 6:10). We have way more responsibility than we are comfortable with and, if we’re honest, we fear it. What we fear, we run from.

To those who actively attempted to engage their portion of the church, warning of a lack of discernment and the impending consequences; thank you for leading the way, even when the way led to abuse and intense criticism from within.

May Jesus forgive us for our lack of vision, discernment, and love that allowed this unnecessary disaster to happen to our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world.

“The effective range of an excuse is zero meters.” – Unknown

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