I haven’t written anything in a while. I don’t know why, but I am stymied. It seems there is so much hate swirling around everywhere I look. I’m not sure how to take a prayerful attitude with this. But then I remembered Jimmy. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge Jimmy Buffet fan. (During any large family gathering, all four generations of us are likely to spontaneously burst out with the chorus from Cheeseburger in Paradise. I love this about my family.) Listening to his music with its laid back attitude, can lift my spirits from almost any blue funk. Jimmy is all about kicking back a step and looking at the world and its problems from a new perspective. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating his perspective, as that is usually alcohol related, but I am advocating looking at things from a new, biblical perspective.
One of my favorite of his songs has the following lyrics; “Its these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same. With all of our running and all of our cunning if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” You see, that’s whats missing right now: it’s the laughter–happy, kind, wonderful laughter of pure enjoyment. The hatred that has settled over the world, like a miasma of darkness, is shutting down the laughter. Everywhere we look, almost, hatred is being spewed out into the atmosphere. It comes from some of the usual places, like politics, racism and discrimination against one another based on color, creed, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. But the hatred is so pervasive that, people with opinions from opposite sides of the mask situation are losing friends over their perspective. Conspiracy theories abound and divide people on either side of that issue. And then the rights versus responsibility question is a huge argument these days. It seems no one is happy.
I am a strong believer in the power of prayer, and I am praying everyday about the situation in today’s world. It’s almost ridiculous to say, but I hate hatred. Its debilitating, its ugly, and its depressing. There are no easy answers. I don’t want to sound facile or act as if prayer is a magic silver bullet, because we know God answers prayers in his own good time. Regardless, of when or how prayer is answered, it is still our best and most effective defense against hatred. The Bible tells us in James 5:16b that “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” So are we righteous people? That’s a point to ponder.
There are more than 100 verses in the Bible that refer to righteousness. Some talk about living righteously, some talk about what righteousness does for us, some talk about being trained to be righteous. The most thought provoking of them all, at least for me, is Romans 3:10; “None is righteous, no, not one;” If none are righteous, then we certainly are not, and that would make our prayers would be ineffective and powerless. Why would Paul say this? He is actually quoting from Psalm 14:1-3. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God. 3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” So if we have all turned aside and have all become corrupt, how do we even begin to think that we can be righteous? Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who, knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
There it is, the answer to how we become righteous. We don’t. There is nothing we can do to obtain righteousness. It is a gift, much like the gift of grace, that is bestowed on us, because God loves us, not because we deserve it. So now that we know we have been given the gift of righteousness through the blood of Jesus Christ, how should be we be living? Should we be allowing the hatred, the despondency, the loneliness and the isolation to turn us from the path of righteousness? Absolutely not. It is not easy to behave like a committed Christian in these times. But we need to stand firm on our faith. (I believe I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone who may be reading this.) Remember this world is temporary and all the things we think are so important right now, are really just of little value. The battle is already over, Christ has won and Satan has been defeated. Satan just doesn’t know it yet. Don’t let him divert your attention away from God to focus on this world. This world will be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth. As the song says, “Keep your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”
Yes, we still have to live in this world and deal with those around us. But if we focus on God and pray continuously for Him to guide us, we can be a beacon of hope and light for those around us. Let them see our joy even in the face of this horrific pandemic. Jesus Christ is the light of the world and he can shine through us if we let him. If you look on a globe you will not see a latitude for Heaven, but that is the latitude we need to strive toward in order for attitude change to occur. “It’s these changes in latitudes and change in attitudes,” that will change us and the world around us.
Love is the pathway to changing our attitude. Love is always the right answer. Love can defeat hatred. Love, God’s love is so powerful we cannot even imagine just what changes can be wrought if we live in that love and show that love to everyone. Our present circumstances may be dire indeed, but that doesn’t mean our attitude has to match the circumstances. If we, as the song says, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” May you experience his glory and grace every day of your lives.