A Strong but Secondary Love

The Sermon for Sunday, July 4, is “Covenant with Freedom,” which will draw primarily from 2 Samuel 5:1-5. It will be viewable online.

Today’s Bible passage:

Zechariah 14:9 (NRSV): And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one.


By Chuck Griffin

If your nation functions as nations should, love of nation can be a good thing. Christians know there are degrees of love, however, and love of nation has to be kept in perspective.

Those of us blessed to live in the United States and similarly free countries have much to love. We live in nations with open intellectual doors. We are free to go through them, explore the ideas we find inside, and convert those notions we judge best into the lifestyles that suit us.

Freedom for citizens of such nations should be limited only at the point where people’s choices clearly impede the rights of others. I’m talking about genuine interference, of course, not the thin-skinned, “I’ve been triggered” movement playing out now.

And yes, Christians should be the strongest supporters of such a system. Many of our democratic notions were born out of the persecution minority Christian groups faced under state-sanctioned religion. Christians in rigid, authoritarian nations still crave the kind of freedom that rapidly evolved in the 18th century.

As followers of Christ, we also keep a bigger picture in mind as we enjoy these freedoms. Something better lies ahead; this truth is at the core of how we live and what we preach and teach to others.

As we freely choose Christ as Savior, we ready ourselves for an eternal, uncorrupted kingdom, a place where God’s light and love illuminate every moment and every relationship. This kingdom is where our most important citizenship resides.

Once there, I have no doubt we will be thankful for the people who made it possible for us to freely choose eternal life. I suspect we also will be astonished at how powerfully God’s grace penetrated even the darkest, most authoritarian regimes, giving people hope.

Lord, thank you for the gift of freedom. May it continue to be guarded and used well in free nations, and extended to those needing relief. Amen.

James: Single Mindedness

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

James 3:13-4:8

You’ve seen images of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each whispering in a person’s ear what to do. Often, these pictures are meant to be funny, but they also portray a very real internal battle we each face every day.

We fully engage in this battle when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  In doing so, we commit ourselves to join Christ in his ongoing work, pushing back against sin wherever we can.

Once we’ve made that leap of faith—once we’ve chosen to call ourselves Christian and really own the vision—the battle between God’s goodness and the evil within us is on. That most immediate expression of God, the Holy Spirit, begins to work inside of us, contending with the world to make us into what God would have us be.

God is going to win, so long as we allow God to win. God’s desire for us to be free beings is the only possible impediment to swift victory. He lets us choose to keep him out, but will rush in whenever we allow. The more we let God work, the more complete the victory within us becomes.

In time, we actually begin to experience another world, the one Christ represents, the kingdom that ultimately will consume and replace the broken world so obviously surrounding us right now.

James lays out a simple plan so we can better allow God to go to work. James says:

Humble yourselves before God. That’s fairly simple to understand. Know who you are relative to God. Know that God knows better. A lot of people find this hard to do, however. Their pride is so intense that they cannot imagine submitting to anything.

Resist the Devil. Don’t panic; we don’t have to do this alone. We could never win on our own, anyway. But God calls us to participate in the fight against evil, knowing God is with us throughout, strengthening us for the task.

Wash your hands, sinners. While it sounds like COVID-19 advice, James is calling us to set right, as much as humanly possible, the wrong we have done. Again, we have to trust God to make the ultimate, great fixes to the universe, but he wants us to involve ourselves in the process.

Purify your hearts. Don’t be what is sometimes translated as “double-minded,” agreeing with worldliness one minute and Christ the next. We have to stop reserving places in our emotions or our intellect for ideas or impulses that are not of God.

As God is more and more present in every aspect of our lives—as we become single-minded—the devil will flee. What is unholy cannot stand a strong dose of what is aligned with God.

Tomorrow, we’ll draw on James’ exhortation as we consider what it means to seek healing, believing we can see God’s dawning kingdom undeniably among us.

Lord, help us flick the demons away and listen only to your guidance. Amen.