Tonight most of us will watch as the President delivers the State of the Union address to congress. What will we hear? Will we be encouraged or discouraged? Placated or enraged? Will we feel frustration or accomplishment? Will we hear truth or untruth? What is the state of our union?
I suspect that tonight we will hear a little bit of everything. Some of us have already determined that whatever we hear will be the absolute best words heard in years; and some of us have concluded that there will be no good word spoken.
Some of us look forward to this annual night of political spin and lopsided applause and wouldn’t miss it whether it is our party in the White House or not, and some of us never watch.
And, yes, it is political spin no matter who is giving the address; is there a politician alive who would stand up and say something that he, or she, believes is negative about themselves or their policies? In fact, I suspect very few of us would. We all like to paint ourselves with as flattering a brush as possible.
So, tonight, if things go as they always have, we will hear a little bit of truth, and a little bit of not-so-true. We will hear some things that we will have a hard time believing, some things that will seem completely made-up, and some things that we can only hope to believe. We will hear it all; and then we will sift it through our own political paradigm while pundits and commentators tell us what they think we should believe and what we should discard.
One thing is for sure about the state of our union: it is fractured. Is it broken beyond repair? I don’t think so. I hope not. Nevertheless, it is good to have an annual report on its condition, the hopes and aspirations of its leadership, and to enable all of us to get a general sense of the direction in which we are heading.
As Christians, the most important union that we need to examine closely and regularly is our union with Christ and our union with other Christians. What is the state of your union? Have we allowed the state of our political union to affect the state of our spiritual union with other believers? I think so. Does that affect our union with Christ Jesus?
As Christians, in that moment when we submitted our lives to Christ Jesus, surrendering our independence and autonomy to his loving care, when we in faith chose to accept the good news of his gospel of salvation, and committed to him we were joined with him in a union that cannot be broken.
Therefore, God will forever think of us as being a part of the body of Christ Jesus. Jesus is our representative, all that he did, the perfect life he lived, the death he endured, and the resurrection that he accomplished are reckoned as ours. We have a new and powerful life in Christ.
As believers joined with Christ, dwelling in him, we are not isolated individuals. Somehow, someway, we are united together with every other believer. As Wayne Grudem states, “Since Christ is the head of the body, which is the church, all who are in union with Christ are also related to one another in his body. This joining together makes us ‘one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.’
“Thus, ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.’ In this body of Christ old hostilities disappear, sinful division among people are broken down, and worldly criteria of status no longer apply, for ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'” Dare I say, there is neither liberal nor conservative, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
As we examine our hearts in preparation of our own personal spiritual state of the union address, when we speak candidly to ourselves about the reality of what is in our hearts, can we honestly say that old hostilities have disappeared, sinful divisions have broken down, and worldly status no longer applies? Or will we dig our heels deeper into the spin of self-promotion and self-justification?
Our unity in Christ doesn’t mean that we cannot hold different opinions, but it does mean that we must not malign the character of a believing brother or sister, simply because we don’t agree with the means to which they want to accomplish the same ends which we are seeking to accomplish. No Christian wants to hurt the poor, the disenfranchised, the elderly, the very young, or anyone else for that matter. Nevertheless, we won’t all agree on a single means to the same end. There are many roads that serve to help others and further the cause of Christ.
Is the state of our union divided simply because of differences in opinion? Are we hindering the spread of the gospel because we struggle to find common ground? Could we actually take a moment and listen to the other side, watch their news, listen to their podcasts, or read their posts without negativity in order to understand their perspective?
How is the state of your union with Christ and with other Christians? Are you able to scrupulously examine your heart and evaluate your plans, ideals, desires, attitudes and actions without bias? Do you desire to be part of the solution?
Moreover, as we scrutinize our spiritual life with honesty, transparency, and authenticity, we must be prepared to confess our truthful findings to God, rather than seeking to slant the outcome in order to appear more flattering to our constituents. God must be the sole recipient of our speech and when he hears our confession, he promises to forgive us and to cleanse us from our unrighteousness.
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