The heart of every caring person, and especially Christians, breaks for what happened in France this week. We must have God’s wisdom to identify, isolate and eliminate such evil acts. Please pray God will comfort those who are suffering loss.
Permit me to address, however, a very real crisis here at home. It is the racial divide and the obvious lack of visible, wise, God-directed leadership necessary to help deal with this pressing, heart-breaking, and potentially explosive and deadly situation. I have been visiting, talking and praying for weeks with minority leaders. I am grateful to report an initial and perhaps supernatural gathering of leaders has been called next week. It will be held at the Potter’s House in Dallas, hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, myself and others. Leadership meetings will convene during the day, and the evening Prayer and Commissioning Service is open to the public. Pray and attend if you can at 7pm on Thursday, January 15.
Our hope depends upon the supernatural release of the only power that never fails. Love is the greatest force on earth to resist, limit, and ultimately halt evil’s deadly progression. This is the greatest hour in human history for us to express the power of God’s love “not in word only, but in deed.” Believers can inspire effective action in all areas of influence including making a positive impact on the federal government. Effective government serves the people and protects them from harm. The primary role of government should always be the protection of our people – not the caretaker or provider for the people.
Because of love for others, the church and private sector (including business and corporate leaders) must join together and seek effective ways to address legitimate needs at home and abroad. Although there are ways to help, we must not leave caring for the poor up to the government because they have failed miserably both domestically and globally. Failure is nearly always the result of the missing hands-on compassion connection and necessary oversight. Good intentions do not necessarily produce meaningful results. If we’re to be successful, everybody must decide to make a difference and we must act with integrity. I want to help inspire those who create business, wealth, opportunity, and jobs to focus their creative energy on effectively meeting the needs of the poor and downtrodden. The legitimate needs of desperate people cannot be left up to the federal government alone which has proved to mismanage the people’s money and consistently miss the intended target.
I’m convinced that before the needed expression of love will sweep our nation and the world, it must first take root in the church of Jesus Christ. After all, isn’t love the signature gift of the Spirit? We need to show people that Jesus sends us out first to demonstrate what He taught in His life and then to teach them the life of love. All too often we have misinterpreted “making disciples” to mean making members of our own group. By seeking to spiritually clone ourselves, we have succeeded in making “like kind,” but we have not necessarily made “Christ-like kind.” If we show people that we love them – period – the way a dedicated parent loves a child, their lives can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you had asked me years ago if I loved other people, I would have said yes, but I had developed a critical spirit that was not healthy. The fact is we hold our religious convictions even more strongly than any political concern. We often defend our beliefs in such a way we actually contribute to our own defeat. Mean-spirited sectarianism has as much potential to damage people as racism or any other “-ism”. God got my attention and showed me I had developed a very unloving attitude through my association with other like-minded individuals and groups.
I remember calling Billy Graham and criticizing him quite forcefully for his association with people I deemed too liberal or non-Evangelical, because of his friendship with Catholics here and in other countries and even foolishly questioned his association with charismatics and Pentecostals. Dr. Graham was unfailingly gracious to me in that conversation, and he said, “I really want to be careful that I’m not compromising. I don’t want to do that. But tell me this: Do you know these people? Have you been around these people that you’re talking about? Have you spent much time with them?”
I said, “No, I haven’t.”
He replied, “Well, I have, and I’ve found them to be very Christ-like. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t have a crusade outside the United States without their help. If it were not for the Pentecostals and charismatics, I couldn’t have an effective crusade overseas.”
As I look back on that conversation, I realize that the same small-mindedness and hard-heartedness I exhibited is a tendency of many in the church. And we need to stop it. It’s not healthy and it makes us insensitive to the heart of God. It deafens us to what the Lord is saying to His people. Billy Graham inspired me to spend time with Christians and church leaders I had been critical of and I experienced the transforming power of God’s love. As I got to know them better I came to know Him better. I saw clearly there is only one perfect person and His Name is Jesus. It is sad to realize that while attempting not to compromise, we actually find ourselves compromising the Great Commandment to love God and others appropriately.
Showing love does not mean we’ll never have disagreements, but let’s learn how to resolve those disagreements without being hateful. What have we accomplished if we “win” a debate but lose a brother? I have been blessed beyond measure when joining with other church leaders both Protestant and Catholic and all those who confess Jesus as Lord and the Bible as His Word to find common ground necessary to effectively address our common concerns.
I still have deep theological convictions, but my convictions are now aimed more toward tearing down the walls that separate people and building a dialogue that leads to healing and reconciliation. I’m tired of the division in the Church and in our nation. I want to help bring people together, “speaking the truth in love.” Of course truth does have a polarizing effect, but when shared in the power of God’s love it penetrates and influences all parties and groups for the better.
That’s why I am heartbroken when church leaders and political leaders refuse to dialogue and interact honestly, refusing to hear one another. And it disturbs me when I see the media misrepresent the truth, or when I see Hollywood filmmakers misrepresent the truth, or when religious people misrepresent the truth. Let’s stop hiding behind our party lines, our denominational differences, our stereotypes, and our rhetoric. Let’s speak the truth lovingly to each other and continue to build on the absolute principles that have made our nation great and that must be restored.
There is no doubt we are facing challenges. These are perilous times and difficulties lie in wait at every turn. But if we will commit ourselves to the principle that “love conquers all,” we will find God’s love expressed through us is sufficient to correct our political problems and effectively meet the pressing needs people face.
Pray for the gathering at the Potter’s House next Thursday, January 15, which is the actual birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King, January 15, 1929. As we approach the holiday honoring his legacy on the following Monday, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could begin celebrating the ultimate fulfillment of his dream?
For more information, see thereconciledchurch.org.