Devotional – Friday, November 6, 2020

SPECIAL NOTE: Our 2020 recognition of Veterans Day and the U.S. Armed Forces veterans among us at First Christian Church will be observed on Sunday, November 15. Please review the list of veterans in our records. If you or an … Read More

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him… 

Titus 3:10

As I write this, televisions in my house are blaring “scenarios” and “pathways” to victory for the two candidates for the office of the President of the United States of America in 2020. Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Brett Baehr, Sean Hannity, and a plethora of other self-pronounced media “experts” all attempt to vilify candidates of the opposing party and convince viewers to select “their” candidate. The media has become tiresome.

Gone are the days of reporting the news without interjecting some personal or network narrative. Walter Cronkite surely would be disappointed, and why? Because the media once laid out the news from all perspectives, without bias, and allowed the viewer to make his or her own informed decision. Unfortunately, those days are gone, along with tie-dyed shirts, bell-bottom blue jeans, and disco. Division is the name of the game in media.

Elections results from last night aside, authentic, contrived or otherwise, the sun rose this morning, all by the grace of God. However, there is an even deeper division in the United States of America that will continue to grow. This should be truly troubling, even to the coldest and most callous of souls. The media is mostly to blame for this division.

Paul commands Titus to avoid wasting time with people who choose to bicker, argue, or squabble and to warn those who do, “once, then twice, then have nothing more to do with him…” How can this happen when the “person” is a media conglomerate? Turning the news off would distance us from the world yet doing so may be the only way to repair our current polarized state. We have a large mountain to climb, but with God’s promise and grace, there is hope.

I was asked today by several of my students my opinions of the fiasco surrounding the election results. Despite me deeply wanting to lash out about the “by any means necessary” methods to win an election, I held my tongue, and mainly for one reason, my God in Heaven would not want me to “stir those flames.” I consider myself to be a cerebral, well-informed man, but one who is compassionate and objective. The same cannot be said for many of my friends, which certainly puts a strain on my relationship with each of them. Perhaps I should evaluate Paul’s words to Titus in my own life. I know, though, that they are simply passionate about their own political and sociological stances.

Matthew 18:15-16 tells us, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses…” Ratings are the lifeblood of any media business, so perhaps we turn the radio or television off, and cancel newspaper subscriptions. Legacy media must then conform or else they risk detrimental effects to their operations.

The name “United” States of America has likely never seemed so ironic as it does now. I am quickly reminded of a powerful scene from the HBO series, The Newsroom, with Jeff Daniels, playing the part of professor, Will McAvoy. Sitting amongst a panel of political gurus and in front of an auditorium of college students, one young female college student poses the question on the panel’s stances on the greatness of America. Expected phrases such as “freedom” and “opportunity” were thrown about by some panel members, but McAvoy says this:

America is not the greatest country in the world…Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom…207 sovereign states in the world, like, 180 of them have freedom…. there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in [several] categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies…

“It sure used to be [sic: great]. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons, we waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it, it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in our last election, and we didn’t, we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things, and to do all these things, because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore…”

We have a duty under God to be compassionate and understanding with each other. We must listen and be good stewards of the Christian faith. We must be open to opposing stances but be cautious if they lead us to sin or to a way of life not acceptable by God. We must lift up those souls who are lost. We must take care of those who are less fortunate. But most importantly, we must not accept the evils of those who aim to divide us. Together we stand, divided we fall. Let’s make this country the United States of America again.

Amen?

Offered by Dr. Trey Earle

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