Many people are living with fear and anxiety because COVID-19 restrictions. Russell Falcon, NBC Austin, Texas, quoted the CDC report that shows 40.9% of adults say they’ve had at least one mental health effect, including symptoms of anxiety or depression (30.9%), symptoms of trauma or stressor-related disorder (26.3%), and starting or increasing substance use to cope (13.3%).

Where can we go to find peace during these uncertain times? Many people like to go to church to find comfort during a crisis. Unfortunately, that right has been stripped from many Americans. If we take these mental health statistics seriously, we must look for answers. As a Christian, I turn to the Bible for wise counsel. Consider the fourth chapter of Philippians as a starting point.

In the first verse, the Apostle Paul tells us to, “Stand firm in the Lord.” We should not abandon biblical truth because some people ridicule us—you can always find a critic. Standing firm means we can brace ourselves for impact and not lose ground. We are not to retreat during a battle. However, we cannot stand firm in the faith if we do not know what we believe.

Our beliefs affect our emotions. Paul asks two ladies, Euodia and Syntyche to put differences aside and agree in the Lord, in verse two. As people of faith, we can unite around guiding principles that are more important than our disagreements. There are Christians all around the world who are as diverse as any group. Our common bond is faith in Jesus.

There was a recent article written by a partisan who entitled his piece, “Today I Gave My Dad a Choice: Trump or His Grandkids and His Son.” I can only conclude from the article that the author believes politics are more important than family. I wonder if there is nothing else holding that family together—like love? Paul tells Christians to push past our differences and unite around our love for Jesus and each other.

He continues:Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:4-8.

The emphasis on rejoicing in the Lord indicates that we have a choice to rejoice or not. If we maintain an attitude of thanksgiving, we will be reasonable people. People who are hurting often hurt other people. They will not listen to reason as their hearts are full of rage. If we have peace with God, we can be at peace with other people.

The Apostle teaches us how to cope with financial struggles. He says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13. He understands how to be content with whatever economic situations he faces.

Many athletes quote the last sentence as a promise that they can make it in professional sports. I doubt many people use Philippians 4:13 to become less materialistic. If we have the mindset Paul is describing, losing our job will not cause us to give up on life. Nor will success cause us to become boastful.

The fourth chapter of Philippians gives us hope that transcends our circumstances. We read, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. That is good news, and we all can use some good news right now. Whatever you are facing today, you can trust in God. If you need counselling, please reach out for help.

There is a false narrative that all law enforcement personnel are evil. If you side with police over protesters, you could be fired from your job. However, events from this past weekend shed light on this national deceit. Not only were two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies ambushed, but supporters of a popular mainstream movement tried to block the hospital and stood outside cheering for the officers to die. How do we go from fighting for social justice to cheering for the death of innocent people?

Jesus told us that we would know a tree by the fruit it produces. Matthew 7:15–20, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

False prophets say things that are not true and use slander. In the Ten Commandments we are instructed that we should not bear false witness. In other words, do not accuse someone of things that are not true. The word diabolos in Greek is where we get the word for “devil,” and it translates “accuser, slanderer.” When we think of being on trial, we are taught to believe that we are innocent until proven guilty. However, our current culture quickly judges people as guilty and cancels them without a trial.  

The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is easy to make people feel guilty and play upon their emotions to manipulate them. False teachers are skilled at this method. 1 John 3:20 tells us, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” This is an encouragement to sinners who have been forgiven by the grace of God. We no longer need to feel ashamed. If God has forgiven you and is for you, then you are innocent (see Romans 8:31-34).

How is it okay to condemn the entire profession of law enforcement? Why side with felons over the police? For extremists, the way to drive out evil is with evil. They have listened to professional activists who have convinced them to cheer for “dead cops.” I read a report that says police deaths are up 28% from what they were the same time last year.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a 19th Century Baptist pastor in England, said, “For us to hate those who are in error or talk of them with contempt or wish them ill, or do them wrong, is not according to the Spirit of Christ. You cannot cast out Satan by Satan, nor correct error by violence, nor overcome hate by hate. The conquering weapon of the Christian is love.”

Can we agree that killing police officers is wrong? Law enforcement officers work for modest wages to protect and serve. People say that the officers knew the risks when they signed up for the job. Can we not say the same about the criminals? Did they not know that a life of crime could result in death? I do not know any police officers who want to kill people, if I did, I would report them. Slander against police has led to this ambush.

When I think of hateful people standing outside a trauma center cheering for the death of wounded officers, I remember what the psalmist wrote, “My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?” Jesus tells us, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5:11. Remember, wicked people shouted for Christ’s execution and mocked him as he suffered on the cross. We know the rest of the story, good triumphs over evil.

Last weekend we celebrated Labor Day and this weekend the NFL is beginning its regular season. In both we see capitalism highlighted. Many of us get a day off from our jobs on Labor Day. The idea is that workers have earned a day to be honored. While many people today are complaining about income inequality, no one seems to mind it in sports. We hear how high performing athletes need to “get paid.” Terms like “compensation,” “hard work,” and “earn” are thrown around as contracts are being negotiated.

A recent study by George Barna, indicates that 98% of people who favor socialism reject a biblical worldview. To simplify, most who believe income should be distributed equally regardless of talent or effort, do not agree with biblical principles about work that we glean from reading the Bible.

I have heard some Christians complain that having to work is the result of sin entering the world when Adam and Eve gave into temptation and ate the forbidden fruit. A closer look at Scripture reveals that, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15). In other words, before the Fall, God created Adam and put him to work. Life is harder because of sin, but we were created to work.

Socialism, as I have discussed previously, goes against biblical teaching. Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of a sluggard craves and gets nothing while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” It is true that we are commanded to help the poor and those unable to work, but Scripture does not command us to help the lazy. We are admonished in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Proverbs 6:10-11 describes the lazy, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

Patrick Mahomes is the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. He is turning 25 on the 17th of this month and recently signed a 12-year contract that could possibly pay him over $500 million dollars for his career. You cannot be opposed to capitalism and okay with a young man getting paid like that when many of his teammates only make the league minimum of $500,000 per year. I know that disparity of income is heart-breaking.

The same announcers who speak about player salaries with glee are often negative about the team owners who invest their personal fortunes, and much of our tax dollars in building sports empires where young men get rich. How many times have you heard someone criticize CEOs for making a good salary? Would it make sense to work for someone who could not afford to pay you?

The biblical principle is that we can enjoy the product of our labor, “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:6). Not only that, but we can take pleasure in the work itself, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23). Socialism is negative, and views work as slavery, and employers as slave masters.

Our culture celebrates athletes and actors. We should also celebrate the businesspeople who invest their money and time to build businesses and create jobs. We have recently gone from a record-breaking economy to a global pandemic. We probably all know someone who has lost his or her job because of unforeseen circumstances. Be encouraged, we live in a country where hard work is rewarded. More people immigrate to the United States than any other country because they recognize this principle.

This is an experience that I have observed too often, and it happened again just the other day. A friend lamented about how his daughter started college intending to gain a degree and serve on the mission field, only to graduate denying her Christian faith. As I listened to this heart-broken father, I thought of my own daughter and what she might experience in the future.

Most of us are familiar with the “God’s Not Dead” movies that depict the battle between religious liberty and academic freedom. I remember watching the credits at the end of the first movie and being astounded by the number of legal cases that were listed. Just think about all the instances where religious rights are violated that never go to court.

Not only do many students not argue with their professors, they take what they say as more authoritative than what they have heard from their parents or church leaders. Since 98% of Americans do not have doctorates, most students assume their professors are experts in all areas of life. The reality is that no one is an expert in every field. Most jobs require specialized training in place of or beyond college. Younger students are easy prey for intellectually lazy professors who want to control what students think instead of teaching them how to think for themselves.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, I took a philosophy of religion class taught by an Orthodox Jew. I knew that I was going into the ministry, so I thought it would be a good class to prepare me for seminary. We had many interesting conversations in that class. I remember a young Black lady getting upset and arguing with the professor in defense of her Christian faith. I admired her boldness, but I had remained somewhat quiet. I thought the professor and I respected each other’s viewpoints.

The final was a take-home assignment where we worked on our personal philosophy of religion. The professor had warned that grades were “subjective.” I found out how subjective as I used the Bible, Old Testament and New as the basis of my philosophy of religion. Expecting an “A,” my final grade in the class was a “C.” I did not go to the professor, and I certainly did not hire a lawyer. Perhaps what my professor really wanted was his philosophy of religion echoed back to him?

I am thankful that I graduated with my faith intact. I cannot say that I did not go through some questioning phases, but they were more social and political than religious. At some point I remember taking the verse Genesis 1:1, and posting it on my bedroom wall, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” That is a good starting point for anyone who wants to rebuild his or her faith.

After college, I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which was the largest protestant theological seminary in the world. I remember my bias being challenged immediately as I came to realization that those professors, with thick Southern accents, were world class scholars. I grasped the notion that you do not have to forfeit intelligence for faith, and you should not have to lose your religious convictions to gain a degree. 

Does it seem as though evil goes unpunished? It is difficult to watch the news and see what is going on in some of our major cities. While the destructive mobs are described as protestors or demonstrators, we get the sense that something else is going on. Why are these organized groups damaging the homes and businesses of the people they claim to be fighting for? One of the phrases we hear repeated is, “No justice, no peace.”

There have been many high-profile cases in which it appears that the criminal got away with a crime or was not punished adequately. Our emotions get stirred and we think about acting out, but most of us control ourselves realizing we do not always know all the facts. 

We all feel a sense of rage over injustice. Especially crimes against women and children. Many question God and blame him for these things. We wonder why God would allow evil to go unpunished. Some may believe that only extreme violence over a long period of time will bring about the change they want. Many people turn away from religion and traditional American values with a sense of disillusionment.

When we turn to the Bible, we read that God is a God of justice. Sin never goes unpunished. There will be a Judgment Day, and all people will stand before God and be judged. Everyone will acknowledge God’s authority and Jesus’ Lordship. (Romans 14:10-13; Revelation 20:11-15).

Romans 14:10–12 says, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So, then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (ESV)

We read about the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (ESV)

I have often seen the expression: No God, no peace; Know God, know peace. I think we can use the same wordplay for, “No justice, no peace.” Most of us would agree that a lack of justice robs us of peace. Injustice produces fear and anxiety. I do not believe most people will have any lasting peace until they have peace with God. When they know the God of justice, then they can know the kind of peace that can carry them through difficult trials in life. Know justice, know peace.

The Bible tells us that we have all sinned, so what about us? Good news! If you have repented of your sin and asked God to forgive you, then you can know that Jesus took your sin and suffered the punishment for it. Jesus died as our substitute on the cross. Jesus fulfills the requirement of righteousness so that we can go to heaven when we die. God is just, so no sin goes unpunished. According to the New Testament, we will either suffer eternal condemnation because of our sin, or have eternal life through Jesus. The difference depends on if we have trusted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Ask God to forgive you and seek forgiveness from those you have wronged before it is too late. 

Last weekend, groups of people prayed for all the schools in the Cape Girardeau Public School District. I am thankful that we live in a community where people of faith can participate in community activities. This was strictly voluntary, and everyone followed strict social distancing guidelines. My church is part of the Chamber of Commerce, and we are the Adopt-A-School partner to Alma Schrader Elementary. It was my joy to lead in prayer at this campus. Former principal of Alma Schrader, Dr. Ruth Ann Orr organized the prayer events. She is the Missions Director of LaCroix Church in Cape Girardeau.

Although my prayer was brief, there were several areas I highlighted, and I would ask you to consider praying about these areas. First, I offered prayer for those who work at the schools. We know there is pressure on the teachers to adapt to in person and online instruction. We think about those who serve in leadership positions as they make decisions on how to abide by health protocols while keeping the schools open. I am sure there will be greater responsibilities for custodial staff as they will have to clean and disinfect the buildings frequently.

Second, I offered prayer for children and parents as they must adapt new policies like wearing masks and social distancing. Parents will not be able to gather at the front doors to pick up their children. Possibly, they will not be able to sit in and observe class during parents’ or grandparents’ days. Will there be any public assemblies? If so, will the crowds be limited in a way that does not allow all parents to attend? I can see how this year may provide some unique challenges for parents and students.

Third, I prayed for peace, unity, and love. We all understand that we are a diverse community, racially, politically, and religiously. That does not mean that we need to imitate the horrors we see on the nightly news. We can be kind and accepting of one another even though we will never be in total agreement on all the issues. We are all in this together, and now is not the time to be hateful or divisive. We can agree to disagree while being kind to each other.

The fourth and final thing I prayed for was protection. I have been hearing that the statistics for children being abducted are far greater than that of a child dying of COVID-19. There is so much evil in the world, that we can never pray too often for God’s hand of protection. We need school resource officers. We need to know what to do in case of a fire or natural disaster as well as we need intruder drills. Now we add an invisible threat that has seized our attention. Lord please protect us.

Philippians 4:6–7, tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I am thankful for everyone who showed up to pray for our schools. Pastors Ron Watts and Adrian Taylor led prayer on Saturday for Jefferson Elementary, then on Sunday at 3:30, August 16, the rest of us met at the following locations: Alma Schrader, Blanchard, Clippard, Franklin, Early Childhood Center, CMS, CJHS, CHS, CTC, Central Office, Central Academy, and SEMO.

Please continue to pray for our students and our public, private, and home schools.

My family and I just returned from a vacation. My wife instructed me to take a break from work, so I did not submit a column last week. On the drive home I was reminiscing about the vacations that we have taken since I have been married. I realized that my memory is foggy on the details, I am happy if I can remember where we went what year, let alone the itinerary for each day. I decided when I got home, I would write down something about each day last week.

There are some people who are uniquely gifted and can remember details of every day of their lives, but most of us cannot remember many details from last week. This reminds me of an illustration. A lady told her preacher that she could not remember the sermons, so she was not sure she was receiving proper instruction in the faith. The pastor asked if she could remember all the meals she had eaten. She replied that she could not. The minister replied, “Nevertheless, you received nourishment from those meals, and they have sustained your life.”

In the Bible, God instructed and inspired people to write down historically and theologically significant events. Sometimes stones were used to mark locations where miracles took place. Joshua had the twelve tribes take twelve stones from the Jordan, and stack them in a prominent place, so future generations would remember how God enabled them to cross the Jordan River on dry ground.

At the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John were with Jesus when they saw him change into his glorified form along with Moses and Elijah. Peter asks if they should build shelters or tabernacles to mark the place as holy. This would be a way of remembering the miracle that took place.

Many times, we think the things we say and do are not important, but the Bible tells us to choose our words carefully. We are warned that we will give an account for every idle or careless word in Matthew 12:36. I believe we will even answer to God for those things we have shared or tweeted on social media.

Christians do not worship the Bible, but we cherish it as God’s voice speaking to us. It tells us what we are to believe and how we are to live. When we start rejecting portions of Scripture, we lose the protections and benefits that biblical teaching offers. If we ignore the Bible, we will end up destroying ourselves. Throughout the Old Testament, Scripture challenges the people to remember what God has taught them.

In the New Testament, Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper shortly before his betrayal and arrest. Jesus wanted us to always remember his work of atonement for us on the cross. This holy communion is observed in Christian churches by partaking of wine or grape juice, and unleavened bread. Various Christian traditions have differing ideas about the elements and what they represent. They fall somewhere between believing the cup and bread transubstantiates into the actual blood and body of Jesus, to believing the elements are purely symbolic. The key truth is that Jesus did not want us to forget that his body was broken, and his blood was shed for us on the cross.

By remembering the gospel: the story of Jesus, beginning with his virgin birth, sinless life, death on the cross, resurrection from the grave, ascension to heaven, and his second coming, we are reminded why we need a savior. We have sinned, and our good works cannot get us to heaven. Jesus lived the life we could not live, and he paid the price we could not pay. He did that for all who believe because of God’s great love.

Life is precious, and each day we have is a gift. By writing down key details, we can remember that it is God who provides for us, and God who sustains us. Keeping a prayer journal is a good starting point. Write down prayer concerns. When God answers, write down what happened. May we be a people who remember The Lord. 

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Like most Americans, I have taken the First Amendment for granted. I have been aware of the attacks on the Second Amendment and the arguments that modern technology was never considered. I find it ironic now that political leaders are restricting the free exercise of religion, and that so many people are appealing to modern technology.

So, you cannot meet in person, just have your service live-streamed, it is no big deal, right? Do you really think that is what our founding fathers intended? I do not. I believe that America was wise to protect religious liberty and not to mandate a religion from the government. My interpretation is that governors asking churches to social distance or wear masks is acceptable. Demanding they close their doors or be fined is not acceptable. It is a violation of the Bill of Rights.

I read that John MacArthur, who leads a mega-church in California, has announced he will not shut down his church as the government is demanding. He is a gifted theologian and has a worldwide ministry known as “Grace to You.”  In response to Governor Gavin Newsom, he says, “Christ, Not Caesar, is head of the church.”

As I have stated in previous columns, there is a line that many in the community of faith will not cross. For MacArthur, the governor has pushed him to that line. I have heard arguments from Christians that we cannot disobey the orders, even if they are illegal. Few are willing to stand against the government.

In that same First Amendment, we read that it is alright to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I do not see a case for riotous mobs to take over city streets. What we have are politicians who cower and cave to angry mobs but are more than happy to arrest or fine church goers.

I am thankful that the governor of Missouri has communicated well with church leaders, only making suggestions and not demands. Most churches are like mine, doing everything we know to do to be as safe as any other place where people gather in our city.

In times like these, people need their places of worship more than ever. People are scared, people are grieving, many have lost their jobs and others are living in fear of an uncertain future. We offer hope and peace. Too many people are making the case that we do not need to worship in a church building. They treat it as a privilege when it is a right.

History teaches us that the freedom to worship has been taken away in the past and it can happen again in the future. My wife is half Dutch. We were in the Netherlands visiting relatives a couple years ago. In Amsterdam, we visited a hidden church. The name of the church translates, “Our Dear Lord in the Attic.” In 1663, Catholics lost their right to go to church. On the outside, the building appears to be a bourgeois house, but inside is a fully functioning Catholic church.

We hear of an underground church in China, where people meet in secret for fear of punishment from their government. It is unrealistic to think you can keep people from meeting together for worship.

I want to worship freely and openly without any governmental interference as the Bill of Rights suggests. Why don’t we leave it to American citizens to decide to watch worship services online or to attend in person?

On Monday, July 13, the Cape Girardeau County Health Department issued an order for us to wear masks. For some, there was relief and a sense that making everyone wear masks was long overdue. For others, another piece of our individual liberty is being stripped away. This is another silly move like telling us which way to walk down store isles. Some people like rules and some do not. For the Christian, we have a set of principles that guide our behavior in all circumstances.

In 1 Peter 2:13–14 we read, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” In other words, we are supposed to follow the rules if doing so does not cause us to sin against God. Whether we believe masks make us safe or not, it is not a sin to wear a mask.

I was disappointed that the order included threats of fines or arrests, and even included a way to report people for not following the order. As a pastor who closed his church for the health and safety of our members and the community without such threats, I found this to be excessive. As I looked further into the order and communicated with the Health Department, I found the guidelines to be manageable. Those who speak or sing onstage may remove their masks. Family groups, once seated and social distanced, may remove their masks.

When the authors wrote about obeying the government in the New Testament, Nero was ruling—he was a ruthless dictator. To think that Christians were willing to be law abiding citizens when there was little justice speaks to our modern situation. If you consider yourself to be a Christian, follow Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” We set an example that others can follow.

Have you considered that most of our grievances, in the United States, are First World issues? We have freedom, food, water, shelter, and the ability to own property. Imagine how ungrateful we must look to people in Third World countries. Living in America is a fantasy for many of the world’s people.

It is hard to believe that anyone would want to live in a city where the government does not enforce the laws. Without law and order, the most ruthless of gangs take control of the streets. Innocent people become prisoners in their own neighborhoods. The only ones who are safe are the rich and powerful politicians who hire personal security officers. On the other hand, where there is the rule of law, and people are abiding by the rules, life is safer and better. We need the right balance between legalism and lawlessness. We talk about that in theology.

In the Old Testament, people had the Ten Commandments. They offered sacrifices and followed a complex set of rules for the peace and safety of their society. Ultimately, they wanted to please God and find favor with him. In the New Testament, we read that God sent Jesus to be the savior of the world. He lived the perfect life that we could not live. Jesus never sinned—this is an essential doctrine of Christianity. It is highly offensive to Christians to say otherwise about Jesus. When a person trusts in Jesus for salvation, God places Jesus’ righteousness on the believer, and the believer makes a lifetime commitment to submit to the authority of God. The law is written in our hearts, so our new nature is law abiding.

Scripture teaches that the government is under God’s sovereign control, so we obey the laws of our government. The only exception is in cases where the government tries to get us to sin against God’s law. There is a line that Christians cannot cross and still claim to be a Christian, the mask order is not it. 

I will joyfully wear a mask if it will enable us to go back to church, work, school and to vote in person.

Like most Americans, I have gone through a wide range of emotions over the past several months. Today, we see so much hate. People are angry at injustice. Some are upset that churches are closed while abortion clinics and liquor stores are open. Some believe that there is an entire system that is working against them. A few months ago, we were concerned about each other’s health, now we are focused on each other’s differences. What can we do to bring chaos back into order? As a Christian, I like to open the Bible and check my attitude. A helpful chapter of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13.

You may have heard this passage read at a wedding. I am including the whole chapter, then I want to point out some ideas.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The first three verses explain that people who are filled with hatred instead of love can do much good in the world. However, their lack of love renders their actions meaningless. We should ask ourselves, are we passionate in a loving way, or are we driven by hate. Scripture teaches us to love God and to hate sin. It is love that motivates us to respect other people’s rights and property.

Verses 4-7 explain that a person whose heart is filled with love is not easily offended. This is not to say we never find certain behaviors offensive. The person who has love can be happy for someone who is wealthy because he or she does not struggle with envy. This person does not find it necessary to make sure he or she gets a lot of attention. We can find fault in others for self-centeredness and not recognize our own bad behavior. Being irritable and resentful is the idea that we expect to be offended and we remember every offensive thing anyone has ever said or done to us. A person who is filled with love can forgive and forget. They can also tolerate people who disagree with them.

The last section, verses 8-13 explain that trends will come and go, but love remains. People are shouting and not listening. Mobs are destroying property and terrorizing their communities. Where is the love? This passage highlights the issue. There is a lack of spiritual maturity. We all have a choice to make. Do we keep a record of wrongs and demand our own way, or do we work to improve society for everyone? If I want to change the world, I can start with myself. I can choose faith, hope, and love.