President's Day

As I write this devotional on Presidents’ Day, I have been reflecting on what makes a good president for our country. It is abundantly clear that we have strong differences of opinion about what makes a great president, and about which ones deserve praise and which ones deserve strong criticism. Those who loved President Obama likely are dismayed by President Trump, and those who praise President Trump are likely overjoyed that Obama is no longer President.

This is nothing new in the US – there have almost always been strong political differences within the country. In fact, the man who was arguably the best president ever (he comes out on top of the polls of most historians!), Abraham Lincoln, presided over a bloody civil war, was hated by many and eventually was assassinated.

However, at a time of great division within the country, in 1865 as the Civil War drew to a close, President Lincoln spoke words in his Second Inaugural Address that I believe we would benefit to hear once again today:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

These words remind me of the words of St. Paul in his letter to the church in Ephesus:

But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.  Ephesians 2:13-16

This is a beautiful picture that is not easy to realize, whether in our nation, our church, or sometimes, even in our own families. Yet it is to this act of reconciliation with one another that we are called, to participate together in one body that brings hostility to an end. It is often easier to decide to just separate ourselves from those with whom we differ, whether over political priorities and strategies, or theological convictions, than it is to pursue reconciliation with each other.

Let us heed both the apostle Paul and President Lincoln, and strive on to finish the work that we are in, “with malice toward none and with charity for all”, whether on Facebook, at work, at home, or when together as the people of God’s Grace.

Dear Lord,

Help us to fight against the things that push us toward division and hostility, and keep us moving toward each other and to the peace that you have brought to us in your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

David Erickson-Pearson

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