Written by Dan Armistead

September 4, 2020

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The recent gracious rebuke of far-right media pundit, Ann Coulter, by Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens, over referring to former President Barack Obama as a retard, strikes at the heart of our problem in the United States in these days.

Both the Right and the Left believe the path forward for our nation is found in electing leaders, passing legislation, appointing judges, and all the other tools of change available in a democracy.

But the truth is, we can do all these things and remain a fractured and violent nation, a nation on the road to ruin.

In the Bible, we read about God’s judgment on the nations of Israel and Judah. If you are familiar with their history, you know that at one time, these two nations were one. Under King David and his son, King Solomon, Israel rose to greatness.

But after the nation split and became two smaller, lesser powers, it wasn’t long before both nations were destroyed.

The Bible gives the reason for the fall of these nations— both broke the laws of God and suffered the consequences.

But the prophet, Jeremiah, gives us insight into the real problem. And the real problem was a heart problem.

Promising the ultimate restoration of Israel in future days, Jeremiah speaks of an inner law governing the people of the land –

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts,” says the Lord through the words of the prophet. (Jeremiah 31:33, NIV)

The New Testament calls this the Royal Law. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ writes James, the leader of the church and one of the brothers of Jesus. (James 2:8, NIV)

Jesus makes it plain who our neighbor is when he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:44,46, NIV)

What is the reward for loving our enemies? May I suggest it is the strength of unity found even in the midst of what is often very diverse understandings of life and the world around us.

But how is this unity achieved?

To begin with, unlike Ann Coulter et al., we refrain from name-calling and demonizing those who think and see differently from us. The belittling and condescending attitudes and words of the talking heads on our so-called news stations (The Left and The Right) do nothing but fan the flames of hatred and discord that are burning down the house.

I refuse to support these celebrities of division, who, to be honest, are just people out to make money. Like John Franklin Stevens, I invite them to open their hearts and make some friends they haven’t made yet.

And I would remind them; it takes a friend to make a friend.

As a follower of Jesus, I have many friends who believe differently from me. Some are other followers of Christ. Some are atheists, agnostics, communists, and socialists. I have friends who are Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu.

All of these diverse people have contributed, and continue to contribute, richly to my life and my understanding of what it means to love and be loved, to build bridges instead of burning them.

I’ll admit there are times when I wish my friends would see things the way I do. And I’m sure they feel the same way about me.

But here’s the thing: even when we are united by religious beliefs, political ideologies, and world views, we can be divided by hard hearts and self-seeking lifestyles, placing our needs, wants, and desires above anything and anybody else.

We can spend all our time and effort in changing leaders, laws, and lifestyles, or we can focus on changing the most important thing of all, our hearts.

“They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.”(Psalm 17:10, NIV)

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24, NIV)

My book, Prophets or Patriots: How Evangelicals Are Giving to Caesar What Belongs to God, is scheduled for release September 15. Also, check out my website, , for more articles and videos on what it means to follow Jesus.

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