By Roger Kruse
America is not well. She has taken a turn for the worse. Some sort of sickness seems to have taken hold. The symptoms of her malady are becoming increasingly obvious. The mass shootings just keep happening over and over again. Innocent lives are snuffed out because some angry shooter decides to vent his hate and act out his desperate frustration with his own unhappiness. Military-like weapons in the hands of such people are a bad idea. Nevertheless, the essential problem is found deep in the human soul.
To some extent, we are all afflicted with the same disease. The Bible calls it sin. This is not a word we like to talk about or own up to. Essentially it describes our deviation from what is right in God’s sight. We prefer to ignore or even dispute that our Creator has set a standard of right and wrong for us to live by. We excuse ourselves and pursue a path that reflects our selfishness and determination to do whatever we want. However, no society, no matter how great, can survive if the foundations are undermined. Abraham Lincoln said that “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Ninety-nine-point nine percent of Americans are not murderers. Nevertheless, we are good at seeing the faults of others and criticizing those who look or act differently from ourselves. Yet we find it easy to excuse our own behavior and justify whatever we do or say. We rarely examine our own motives or consider that we may have said or done the wrong thing. We find it easy to put the blame on others, but almost never say “I’m sorry.”
After being questioned by God following the murder of his brother Abel, Cain denied that he knew anything about Abel’s whereabouts. Instead, he pushed aside his own responsibility by asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question is a good starting point for us all. God wants us to take care of each other. The Scripture says that we should “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Jesus said that we should treat other people the way that we ourselves would like to be treated. The best cure for what ails the American soul is God’s love. Kindness, patience, forgiveness, and helpfulness help us to define love in ways that make it practical and within our reach. Abe Lincoln wisely observed that “A day spent helping no one but yourself is a day wasted.” Martin Luther King Jr. understood that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
What will you do to make America a more beautiful place today? Is there a lonely one who needs to know that someone cares? Is there an isolated, angry person who needs a listening ear or maybe just a word of kindness? Is there a selfish, reckless driver who could benefit from your gracious prayer for God’s touch upon his or her life? Change can and will happen as we acknowledge that love is the answer. God’s love for you in Christ is perfect. The undeserved grace of Jesus provides us with the mercy we each need and can then pass on to others.
America will be truly beautiful as “God sheds His grace” upon our hearts and empowers us to “crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
Roger Kruse is a proud American. However, the freedom and blessings that we enjoy must never be taken for granted. Each of us has a responsibility to nurture and confirm a brotherhood that is rooted in kindness and caring for one another.