On Earth as in Heaven?

A Letter to Pittsburgh Presbytery from
Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge
General Minister
Thursday, October 15, 2020

“God is love.” (1 John 4:8) It is the bedrock of God’s self-revelation to Moses. (Exodus 34:6-8) It is the core message of the psalmist and of the prophets, even when they proclaim divine judgment. It is the essence of God’s nature revealed to us by Jesus.

God’s love for each of us – no exceptions – calls us to do likewise. Love one another. If God loves you, my alignment with God’s will is expressed in my loving you.

Loving one another does not require that we agree with each other, though it does demand that we respect each other. Indeed, genuine love is proven precisely when we disagree. If God loved us while we were sinners, the genuineness of our love for each other is likewise demonstrated by our sticking with each other when we are at odds with one another.

The essential mark of love is that we do not abandon. When we love each other, we commit to staying the course together.

Anything and anyone that seeks to divide us, whatever the reason, runs contrary to God’s will.

Which is why the Bible says that God hates those who sow discord. Sowing discord is the final of seven things God hates, according to Proverbs 6:

  • Haughty eyes
  • A lying tongue
  • Shedding innocent blood
  • Wicked schemes
  • Eagerness to do evil
  • False testimony
  • Sowing discord

That short list reveals what God thinks of much of the political posturing swirling around us as the election draws near. We pray, “Thy will be done on earth.” Despite our fervent prayers, the spirit at work in the world around us is far from God’s will.

If we claim to care about God’s will, we must be very clear-eyed about what we see going on in our surrounding culture. We cannot in good conscience turn a blind eye to words and actions that pursue and reward that which God “hates.”

This all came to my mind at the first presidential debate two weeks ago, in which we witnessed a torrent of inflammatory antagonism being unleashed, unbridled. It may have been directed against the debate opponent, but it sprayed out to all who watched. I found it so unseemly and divisive that I could watch for only a few minutes.

Some may write it off as “just politics.” We’re not asking our politicians to be saintly after all, only to govern effectively. Unseemly behavior by those who govern is as old as politics itself.

Yet when political leaders seek to divide rather than unite, to separate rather than to heal, it goes against the very grain of our prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

God has not anointed one candidate or another in any of the political races, including the presidential contest. Yet if we claim to belong to God and to care about what God cares about, we must ask ourselves as voters not only what is in our own interest, but what aligns with God’s will.

Whom among our choices is more likely to shape a world that corresponds to God’s reign? This is not the only question that we need to answer as we prepare to vote, but we cannot dodge it if we bear on our lips the prayer Jesus taught us: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Seeking God’s reign,

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