Two things prompted me to write on this topic — the polar vortex that swept down on northern Minnesota the last week of January and the controversy over our American president giving the State of the Union address from Washington D.C.
First, to the polar vortex — I grew up in Minnesota but I don’t think I will ever get used to feeling the sting of a biting wind that sends wind chills plummeting to -60 Fahrenheit. I don’t mind being active outside when the temperatures get down in single digits or even a little bit below zero. But when the temperatures go to double digits below zero it becomes difficult to enjoy outdoor activities and if the temperature goes way low — it becomes dangerous to be outside for any extended amount of time. Life ceases to be as enjoyable as, say, on a sunny July day in northern Minnesota when it is in the mid 80’s and there is clear blue sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds. Call me a wimp, but I (and I think if we are honest, most of us) would much prefer to be outside walking, gardening, swimming, fishing or golfing soaking up sunshine on a warm summer day.
The second issue is the State of the Union and the controversy surrounding it — now people are debating whether or not this address to the nation by our head of state is even necessary. Politicians are politicizing it, delaying it and even threatening to cancel it. How important is it to know the state of our union?
Which leads me to Jesus’ reply to his disciples when they asked him what the “state of the union” would be before he comes back again. In Matthew 24:12 he warned them that because of the increase of “lawlessness” the love of many “will grow cold” during that time. That is a sad “state of union” address. Who likes to live in a society where you get a “cold shoulder” and people don’t care about you? Just as it is more pleasant to be outside in northern Minnesota on a warm July day than a cold, “polar vortex” January day, it is much more pleasant to live in a society where people are warm, friendly and caring. Jesus warned that in the world it would become a not so pleasant place to live before he would come back and take us to be with him in Heaven.
What did he say causes this sad state of the union? Lawlessness. This isn’t the usual reason that most people give when we think of apathy or hatred, but Jesus pinpointed the disregard of God’s laws, nature’s laws and man’s laws as actually spawning a “cold front” in human relations. I have lived in countries overseas where lawlessness abounded and I can attest to the fact that it does nothing for peace and harmony in a country. The rich can violate the law and get away with it and the poor can be accused and condemned unfairly of wrongs they haven’t committed. It isn’t pretty. So next time you hear a discussion about legislation about issues such as immigration, homelessness, welfare, education, etc. just remember Jesus’ words about lawlessness. It is important how we relate to each other and the laws we set up in our society. They are meant to protect the vulnerable and create a level playing field for all of its citizens to function. Jesus said that he didn’t even come to destroy God’s law ( Matthew 5:17-20) and he also grew in “wisdom and stature” in accordance with man’s and nature’s laws (Luke 2:52) — so he is our example of living a life of obedience to God’s laws, nature’s laws and man’s laws. If we follow him that means that instead of being a zealous hypocrite in relation to the law — we should be warm, sunny influences in our community. I don’t want to contribute to a frigid, polar vortex state of our union — do you?
Pastor Doug Hardt