Today is Independence Day. The anniversary of the day the thirteen colonies declared their independence from England, a monarchy that ruled over them and taxed them without representation. England did not understand these colonists, nor did they seem to care. England made laws and decrees that were good for England and England only.

The fledgling country of the United States of America had to fight for this independence. It did not come quickly nor easily, but it did finally come. And you and I are the benefactors of their vision and their sacrifices.

But, today, we stand at another crossroads in our nation’s history. We are not fighting an external power but an internal one. We are currently more in a civil war. A war of vicious words, villainization and power plays. Our forefathers developed a democracy of parties – two parties as it stands today. The intent was to never have one party or the other in complete control, but to have a balance of power between them for the good of all. Just as England could not possibly understand the needs and desires of the colonists, each party has a difficult time understanding the needs and desires of the other. This has always been true. The dilemma of today is the parties have largely quit trying. It is no longer protocol to work together for compromise and collaborative solutions, assuming good intent even in a different perspective. Rather, each party today seeks primarily to control. There is an erosion of trust between fellow citizens to work together for mutual gain. Instead, an issue is looked at from two opposite positions and a tug of war ensues. Each side villainizing the other for their “ridiculous” position.

On this Independence Day, let’s unite as Americans behind our love for this country and each other. Let’s stop villainizing each other and seek to understand each one’s position. Together we could solve the problems before us (drug addiction, poverty, racism, abortion, domestic abuse…) by seeking to understand each perspective and addressing them with compassion and justice.

Jesus never took a political stand, because he knew that politics only divide, and divisions only seek to exclude others. Instead, he spoke for freedom, true freedom, from sin, from judgement, from condemnation. He spoke for truth, for justice and for mercy. He died to remove the divide between us and God. His Spirit taught the disciples to ignore man-made divisions and accept Gentiles into the faith as graciously as they did Jews. Jesus died to unite not divide. He came to love all not to only love some.

I will be the first to admit that I am struggling to love and accept those who view our current political situation differently than I do. But I am feeling strongly urged by the Spirit to listen, to seek understanding and to speak out for unity rather than annihilation of the opposition.

On this Independence Day will you join me in doing your part to mitigate the anger and the hatred and the division? Let’s again seek to unite this country in a way that is glorifying to God. Let’s take care of the forgotten and the displaced. Let’s find balanced solutions to our problems. Let’s love each other as Christ first loved us. Hate only strengthens hate. Love is the true antidote.

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