I read a portion of a letter dated March 1, 1775 from John Wesley that struck a nerve with me. Here is what it said:
As to the public affairs, I wish you to be like minded with me. I am of neither side and yet of both… Private Christians are excused, exempted, privileged to take no part in civil troubles. We love and pray for all with a sincere and impartial love. Faults there may be on both sides but such as neither you nor I can remedy; therefore, let us and all our children give ourselves unto prayer and so stand still and see the salvation of God.
Our country is in strife, although it has seen worse strife. Remember that time about 150 years ago when a half million of us died at each other’s hands? Or that time about 240 years ago when we took up arms against each other?
Wesley wrote his letter during a time of great strife and made a bold request to the Christians of the age. Most did not heed his counsel, but the proposition got me to thinking about what would happen if we did that now.
What if we as Christians took a break from fighting battles on issues to focus on prayer?
What if we as Christians sincerely prayed for those who oppose us, not asking God to destroy them or even see our way, but to somehow discover Jesus?
What if we as Christians held our tongues for just a season and gave God a chance to make His voice heard above the din of disagreement?
What if we as Christians could put aside our human tendency to “get even” and offer that undeserved merit we call grace?
What if we as Christians really got to know our opponents to find those things on which we can agree and build a dialog from there?
What if we as Christians started a national “Offer Grace Day” where we made a concerted effort to offer kindness to our enemies? Jesus said something about that, didn’t He?
I know this is extreme. And I have no idea how the world would respond if we did this en masse or even if they would notice, but God would notice. We would notice, and perhaps, just perhaps, we might be changed.
God’s grace to you,
Steve Jennings, Executive Director