Hello beloved friends,
I pray you are ALL safe and well as we celebrate this fourth of July weekend and this day which God has given to ALL people. It seems strange though to hear those two ideas together, doesn’t it? For, if we are celebrating today or any day as one which God has given to ALL people, how can we also celebrate it as one which is, strictly speaking, lifting up only one group of people? How can we celebrate the Fourth of July and our independence from Britain without having a bias against the English people? How do we balance these two celebrations in our hearts and souls?
Sadly, we are rarely able to find this balance as humans seem to be inherently biased towards their identity, religion, or way of thinking. Now, I am not saying bias is good or bad, just a reality. We tend to dismiss ideas which challenge our beliefs and cling hard to those ideas which we believe. This truth became clear this week, as with most weeks, when we look at the news. We hear people claiming the eyewitness account and testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson as undeniable proof to Trump’s guilt on January 6th, even though she was not present in the car. Or, that Donald Trump actually won the election against President Biden, even though this belief has not been proven in a court case. Could either of these two beliefs be true? Yes, they could be true, and they could also be false delusions to inspire your emotions and ire. They could be lies, intentional or unintentional. And that beloved is the problem with biases.
The problem that our biases can and often do lead to lies which harm people. The Fourth of July reflects the problem well in that when I was growing up, this day was seen as a celebration for all people. It was a celebration of independence from oppression. But what I have discovered, as I grew older, is that this day was not a celebration of independence for all people, not even for all people in the United States. Yes, it was a day which marked the end of British control over America; but it also is the day that gave power to the primarily Caucasian male landowners to oppress women, African Americans, Chinese Americans etc. Does this truth lessen our celebration of the Fourth of July? Does it mean we should be biased against all white male landowners as they were the identity who profited from this lie? Does this mean anything other than this truth is what happened in the world? I believe the answer truly is no, to all of the above. No, the dream of the Fourth of July, an end of oppression, is something beautiful to celebrate and work towards; no, the people alive today is not to blame for our ancestors and to be biased against them will simply perpetuate more lies; no this truth is what happened without judgment.
So how do we balance these two celebrations: Jesus says, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Although he is speaking about taxes, let us remember this tension in all walks of life, in all our situations, and the biases we feel drawn too. The tension between the human world and the Divine world of God. Let us remember this Truth as Jesus shows us how to avoid the traps of lies and biases by being faithful to God while supporting the dreams, ideas, and beliefs of humanity in a balanced and loving way. Give to Caesar (our country your celebration for it is a US holiday) AND give to God all your love for ALL people because He created today for ALL of Her children. The reality is we may never be able to fully avoid our biases in this world; but when we follow Jesus and his teachings, we may be able to witness God’s Love and avoid falling for those biases which perpetuate harm upon one another.
With ALL God’s Love
your pastor and teacher, Brian
As summer approaches, let us consider how you love God. Remember love is not just a feeling but an action we do every day. Feel free to text, call, or email me always to share as I am here to support you and your relationship with God wherever you are on the journey. My number is (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Tues. 12-5, Wed. 11-3, Thurs. 10-2. Many blessings and Love to you all.