Tricky business

Without a doubt the first order of business today is to pause and offer a prayer for those who are struggling the most with this oppressive heat. I am sure most people reading this today have ready access to an air-conditioned environment (as I do) and are not required by your line of work to be outside in the sun (as I am not). There are many people in our area, and probably some right near our church, for whom these are not true. Would you please pause right now and lift them up in prayer with me?

Thank you.

Here is one of the other things that is on my mind today: Have you looked around recently and noticed the sheer number of high level and yet totally stalemated negotiations that are going on right now? Over there in Washington, D.C. we have the President and the Republicans and the Democrats negotiating for a new debt ceiling so that the government can pay its bills after August 3. In New York we have the Battle of the Millionaires vs. the Billionaires trying to work out a new collective bargaining agreement that will allow the National Football League to keep playing, and then finally the same thing going on with the owners and players for the NBA. As I watch the news reports of these “discussions” I imagine a long, polished wooden table with rows of scowling people on each side and glasses of water and yellow legal pads scattered everywhere. If it were a different era there likely also be clouds of cigar smoke in the air.

As we hear the reports on the progress (or lack thereof) of these negotiations, the public statements made by each side seem to focus on attacking the integrity of the other… pointing out how badly “we” are being treated and how bleak and grim the outlook is for a positive outcome.

Is there an easier or better way to do this? Do negotiations always have to be so incredibly adversarial? It is of course hopelessly naïve to think that people will just sit down, sing a chorus of “Kum By Ah” and effortlessly work out an agreement on these kinds of things. Still, I can’t help wishing that there might be even the tiniest recognition of the fact that the people on the other side of the table are human beings, children of God, created in God’s image, imbued with worth and dignity and deserving of grace and respect.

But then I am forced to look in the mirror and ask myself how often I really approach another person from that kind of godly perspective and I am embarrassed to admit how often I fail… even when we are NOT talking about contracts worth millions of dollars.

This morning’s devotional reading (from the book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) sent me to Ephesians 5:8-11 which reminds us all, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light – for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

Let us each “live as children of light” today!

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