Our scripture this morning is Galatians 5:13-18.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

(the emphasis above is mine, not from the New Living Translation I have been using recently)

Most of you who are acquainted with me know I am rarely at a loss for words, but on this Independence Day, I am struggling. I am concerned for all of us in our current situation. I don’t remember a time when I have heard public discord at this level.

We are all struggling with our rights as humans. Defining and protecting our rights has always been a problem and we have wrestled with many issues with varying degrees of success over the years. I have opinions on everything, as everyone does, but I am reluctant to discuss them in most online forums because of encountering the very thing Paul warns us of: “But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another” (v. 15).

As a pastor, I feel my call is to share Christ’s love with everyone and encourage them to have a personal relationship with Him. There are social issues in our world to be addressed, but nothing will improve until we are able to treat each other as Jesus did, with love and acceptance. I ask each of you to prayerfully ask for wisdom and patience, and make an honest attempt at discussion with each other. There are raging voices at the extreme ends of every issue and while we all need to vent our frustration, it must not be at the expense of others. I believe there are many more less strident voices available for honest conversation than there are contentious ones. May God help us to listen to each other’s fears and concerns, and express our own in constructive ways.

Heavenly Father, we are sorry for the way we often treat each other. Bless us to love all Your children, even those with whom we disagree. In Your name we pray. Amen.

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