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Broken Hearts for a Divided Country

Our hearts are broken today as we continue to witness the deep divide in America.

Two day ago, we witnessed angry citizens overrunning the Capital building.

And today we’re left to wonder: what is our world coming to? How do extremists on both sides of the political spectrum feel justified in various combinations of rioting, looting, lawlessness or violence?

The godlessness in America is catching up with us. People who do not submit to the Lordship of Christ are capable of unmitigated hatred and cruelty toward one another. “We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:4)

I wonder how the Lord feels about how rebellious, hateful and divided our country has become?

We’re not where the world was in Noah’s time, but it seems we are on our way, and this passage gives us a glimpse of how God felt at that time:

“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6, NLT)

The Lord sees it all. We only see what’s captured on film or hear what’s reported by others. But the Lord sees it all: every malicious heart, every vindictive thought, every troll’s true identity.

And it angers him.

And it breaks his heart.

Are you just angry? Or are you brokenhearted as well?

You can get angry at anyone – but only those you love can break your heart.

It’s okay to be angry. But if you’re not brokenhearted for them, do you really love them like God does?

How do people lose their way so badly?

Isaiah 53:6 gives both the reason and the solution: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

We lose our way by “going astray” from the commands of God, and “turning to our own way” instead. We are sheep in need of a shepherd. Stray from the shepherd and we get lost. It’s that simple.

But praise God, the solution is also simple: run back to the shepherd and we are found.

The great news is that “the good shepherd”, (Jesus, referring to himself in John 10:11), not only takes us back, but incredibly becomes the sacrificial lamb for us as well – thereby reconciling us to God again.

Eventually, the Creator must judge – as he did in Noah’s day, and he will again on Judgement Day – but for now, the window of opportunity is still open.

This is the only hope for America.

Americans must individually return to “the Shepherd and overseer of their souls”, Jesus Christ. “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25)

And we must, as a nation, humble ourselves, seek his face, and repent.

“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

We need to pray, brothers and sisters. We need to lead on our knees. We need to speak with broken, humble, and loving hearts. And we need to offer the world an alternative.

Don’t fall into the trap of giving your primary allegiance to one side or the other in this political struggle. That’s not what Jesus would do. Jesus gave his primary allegiance to the Kingdom of God – not the kingdom of men. Jesus lived in an extremely polarized political climate where both sides wanted desperately for him to take their side, but he consistently refused (see Mark 12:13-17 and my blog, “Beware the trap of binary thinking”, for an example of this:

As one Pastor tweeted yesterday, “The culture needs an alternative to itself – not an echo of itself.” (Carey Neiuwhof)

Resist the temptation to echo the world’s condemning and retaliatory attitudes. Demonizing any individual or group of people is not the way of our Lord.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he did not demonize or label them. Instead, he had compassion on them, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

Brothers and sisters pray to have the heart of Jesus – a heart that breaks for lost sheep. As John Eldredge reminds us, “The world is harsh; but God is gentle.”

And let’s hold high the lamp of the kingdom – the beacon of light that shows the way home.

Jesus prayed that our unity would convince the world that he was from God and that he loves us. That’s the searchlight crisscrossing the night sky showing them the way home: our unity.

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:22-23, NLT)

True unity is not just hard – it’s impossible without Jesus. But with Jesus, we can be truly unified – and that light stands out in a dark world.

Every crisis in America tests the unity of our racially and ideologically diverse church. But remember that in crisis there is both danger and opportunity – the danger of echoing the division in our world and the opportunity to provide an alternative.

Let’s choose the way of the Lord and provide an alternative.

Our country and our church depend on it.

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