In 1991 a series of meteorological conditions contributed to the formation of what has been dubbed "The Perfect Storm." Widespread interacting fronts forced the motion of an extra-tropical low pressure system to circulate and intensify, leading to strong winds and unusually high waves. The storm caused over $200 million dollars damage from southern New Jersey to Massachusetts, and claimed the lives of over a dozen people.
Now, another perfect storm has developed over the United States. Widespread conditions across the land have contributed to a raging tempest that promises to bring further destruction to the country from California to New York and Florida to Maine. The storm is intensifying greatly day by day, seemingly with no end in sight. There will be untold destruction and possibly even more lives lost than have already.
The Perfect Storm of 2017 is a gale fueled by three powerful influences. The first thing fueling the storm is unchecked animosity toward one another. Hate is alive and well in our nation, and it is not found just on one side of the issues we face. It is found everywhere, fueling speech and civil unrest like gasoline thrown onto a fire. Hatred and animosity in the hearts and minds of Americans is rampant. Mass media adds more fuel to the already raging flames of discontent with every report, adding to the mob intellect that says angry confrontation is the solution. Certain persons with the means to fund and influence crowds to further unrest for political gain operate behind the scenes, bringing even more fuel to the fires of hate.
The second source of fuel for the Perfect Storm of 2017 is loss of conscience. Anything goes in our society. The hero of nearly every television show saves the day by undermining the authority of his employer, police captain, fire chief, or head surgeon. The person most likely to save the day in nearly every storyline is the one who subverts the status quo, bends the rules, fights the authority, and breaks the laws for the so-called greater good. It has been so ground into our collective intellect that the ends justify the means that conscience itself has been silenced in our minds, on both sides of the proverbial aisle. Without conscience, there is nothing to hinder the most brutal of assaults on whoever the target of the day happens to be.
Finally, the animosity toward one another and the lack of conscience among the people of our country combines with the natural intense desire for meaning and purpose. Everyone desires a life that means something. Everyone wants to make a difference in the world. Everyone wants to matter. But having a voice and contributing to a dialogue, protesting and causing unrest, even violence, is not the same thing as making a difference or living a life that matters, despite the message proclaimed from nearly every source of media that the opposite is true.
Nothing about The Perfect Storm of 2017 should come as a surprise. Anyone with eyes to see could have seen the conditions were ripe for the unchecked torrent of rage we now face as a nation. Words penned nearly two-thousand years ago in what we call today The New Testament, predicted that a time would come when people would turn away from truth and wander off into myths(1), and when people would be lovers of self, proud, arrogant, abusive, without self-control, brutal, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, and lovers of pleasure. Some, the writer predicted, would even appear to be godly people(2). The outlook seems truly bleak.
Thankfully, however, The Perfect Storm battering our shores and fields and homes and mountains can be dissipated. It does not have to rage uncontrolled, tearing the land apart and severing relationships between family and friends. It begins with the realization that every contributing voice from every side that does not begin and end with humility before God and the love of Christ is not helpful, but is adding to the inferno of rage and hate. It begins with the understanding that every human being really does have a need for meaning and purpose, but that the meaning and purpose they seek is not found in unrest and shouting matches and violence, but in Christ and the unique, beautiful purpose for which he created every one of us individually. Most importantly, it begins with the people of God stepping up and being the voices of love, respect, and humble, gentle, self-controlled, Spirit-led reason.
In everything God will be glorified, even in civil unrest and the difficult times a nation faces. I want to see the nation heal. I want to see people across the land release their animosity toward one another and channel their energy into useful dialog and an honest search for real truth, love, and meaning, which can only be found through a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us, as the church, not hinder that from happening by further adding to the division in our country. Let us instead love. Love does not mean overlook wrongdoing; it means we receive those we encounter with humility, gentleness, and respect, making every attempt to lead them gently to the gospel and ultimately to salvation. It is our calling. It is our commission.
(1) 2 Timothy 4:4
(2) 2 Timothy 3:1-9