Lenten Devotional: Sunday, April 7

Psalm 118Psalm 145Jeremiah 23:16-32
1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Mark 8:31—9:1

“For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.” 1 Corinthians 9:19

As I look out my window at a beautiful, false spring morning in central Virginia, I grapple with the sadness of living and raising a child in an angry and belligerent world.

I struggle with the prevailing opinion that being yourself and arguing is the way to sway people to your point of view. Belligerence might end an argument, but it never won one. It just separates us from each other.

In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to segregation and racial prejudice. By speaking quietly and working in a non-violent manner, he slowly but surely changed the South. In his Nobel Peace Prize speech, Dr. King talked about how as we become more technologically advanced and external we lose the internal: arts, literature, morals, and religion. Isn’t this what we see today?

We are living in a digital age and, I believe, it is killing kindness. It is hard to remember there is a person on the other side of that computer with thoughts, feelings, and difficulties just like you. Now, we see that distance from each other spilling over into our daily lives.

All I see on the news is violence, in speech and action. People talking forcefully at each other, talking over each other and no one listening. Violence in workplaces, schools and the streets across the world. The quiet moments when we come together, praying for 12 boys and their coach trapped in a flooded cave halfway around the globe. Then rejoicing when God helped those rescuers get them all out alive have become few and far between.

Paul said that the best way to win people to your point, is to become like them: weak or strong, adapt to them while staying true to your faith. Paul, who had been so angry and violent, came to preach peace and acceptance to effect change and spread the word of God. Reading Paul and Dr. King, we still have a lot to learn from them and a long way to go. However, if we each work in our daily lives to listen to other points of view and be less belligerent, we can slowly effect change. As history has shown repeatedly, it only takes one person to change the world.