Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Better Angels of Our Nature

     In Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, he makes an impassioned appeal to the Southern States, which had already seceded from the Union.  At its heart, the speech was a call for reconciliation.  The tender emotions of a father figure can be felt in his words.   "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection... all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely as they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

What a beautiful, poetic phrase, "the better angels of our nature." What did Lincoln mean by those words?  I feel he is saying, that if they looked deep inside, they, both North and South would find the path that would lead back to unity and righteous freedom for every American, both slave and free.  His appeal was for the South to look beyond their familiar culture, beyond their prejudice, beyond their fears, and see something bigger, something greater, something more noble, freedom and unity and common good for all men.  Lincoln believed it was there, in the heart, if they would just be willing to search for it, the better angels of our nature.  Lincoln had a vision of an America united.  He saw the enormous potential of an America with its immense resources, when coupled with a people undivided by race or region.  Lincoln saw a bright future for the Nation, if it would let go of the things that weakened it, slavery and disunity.

 Sam Houston, Governor of Texas gave his opinion on how the North would respond to the South's secession. "They are not a fiery impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates.  But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche."

 The Bible has the same sentiment when it speaks of the power and influence of the Church.  The Church is a mighty spiritual avalanche, when its people are unified, and choose to move in the same direction.  However, this mighty Church is divided over such things as: worship style, building architecture, types of church government, Bible version choices, and even still, the color of one's skin.  How I long for the fulfillment of this passage in the Psalms, "How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity." Psalms 133:1

 Of course, we need to unite around the major uncompromising truths such as: The Trinity, Deity of Christ, Inerrancy, and moral guidance of the Bible, and the Atoning death of Jesus, Salvation through Christ alone, and a final judgement of all mankind.  There will always be differences among believers, but can you imagine the Body of Christ united under the banner of these truths?  What a powerful force we could be in this world, instead of a weak, divided Church. This is not the Church God intended, nor the Church the World needs.

The Word of God exhorts us, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgement." 1 Corinthians 1:10
    The Apostle Paul believed that if we are willing to search deep within our hearts, and look with the right attitude, the Church can discover those, 'better angels of our nature'. "In whatever you do, don't let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

To paraphrase the words of Sam Houston for us today, "When we (The Church) begin to move in the same given direction (Making Christ and His Gospel the centerpiece), we will move with the steady momentum and perseverance of an avalanche."  When that happens, then we will truly experience the reality of these words, "If God be for us, who can stand against us... Yes, we are more than conquerors through Christ who died for us." Romans 8:31, 37

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