Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Love one another" wasn't a polite suggestion.

I attended a multi-faith devotional today. The theme was "Faith of our Fathers".

It was a beautiful devotional.

My friend, Kristina, gave a talk. She has an interesting story. I hope she doesn't mind if I paraphrase her here.

In Yugoslavia, where she was raised, they weren't allowed to discuss science or religion. It just wasn't done. Her father's mother was a devoted Catholic and would attend midnight mass. Attending mass was dangerous, as people were shot. It was common for people to disappear in the middle of the night.

Can you imagine?

Her father had a dream. He told them they were going back to America. They packed pretty much what they could carry and left under the cover of night.

This morning, before I knew what Kristina's talk was going to be about, I attended the flag ceremony at the front of the church. There were a few dozen people, milling around, waiting for the ceremony to commence.

How lucky we are. We are so lucky to be able to stand in front of a church without worrying about being gunned down just for being there. How lucky am I to be born an American. Then I thought, let's be honest. Luck has absolutely nothing to do with me being an American.

Forgive me while I digress.

Jewel has a song called "My Father's Daughter".

I am my father's daughter, he has his mother's eyes. I am the product of her sacrifice. I am the accumulation of the dreams of generations and their stories live in me like holy water.

Today, while I was listening to the devotional, it occurred to me...I am not lucky to be an American. Luck has nothing to do with me being here. I am here because of centuries of sacrifice...their sacrifice. Sacrifices that I am immeasurably thankful for. Sacrifices that I strive to be worthy of.

The underlying theme of the devotional was religious freedom. The freedom to worship how, where, and what we may. Which means we have to grant others the same opportunity.

Something else struck me while I was at the devotional. The hatred that burned John Rogers (Thomas Matthew) at the stake, is the same hatred that chased LDS families across the plains. It is also the same hatred that is persecuting Muslims and homosexuals.

The. hatred. has. got. to. stop. 

It's not Christlike. It's not productive. We need to find a way to compromise with each other and learn that compromising with others doesn't mean you must compromise your standards. It simply means everyone has the freedom to live their lives according to their own conscience.

I'm tired of all of the negativity. I'm tired of people being outraged. People are being offended over things that don't really pertain to them. Things need to change. We need to stop intentionally trying to offend people. Contriving outrage and finding things to get mad about serves nobody. Scratch that. Yes it does. It serves Satan. You can't have Christ in your heart if it's full of anger and hate.

Nobody is asking you to compromise your own personal standards. Accepting someone else for who they are doesn't make your heart any less. I would posit that it makes you a better person. Satan wants us to feel contempt. He wants us to have anger in our hearts.

At the devotional, a Baptist pastor told a story.

Satan was collaborating with his followers, trying to get people to stray. The first one said, "We can get them to believe there's no God," But that wouldn't work. The second one said, "We can get them to believe there's no Heaven or Hell." But that wouldn't work, either. The third one said, "We will tell them there's no hurry."

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