In these dark and unusual times in which we find ourselves, it seems we are in need of some extraordinary measures for keeping hope alive. Before we were even struck by the coronavirus pandemic, we already saw too much death, division, and despair.
But, as people of faith, we of all people should know how to find hope in these times. When the New Testament promises abundant life, which I like to define as “the life that is truly life,” those of us who know and believe in light and life see an extraordinary opportunity before us.
For me, that means a campaign to restore the soul of America. I love this country and its people, and I believe we are more than what we’ve become.
Even as a youngster, I wrestled with who we’re supposed to be as people of faith when I found myself in a theological argument with an elder at my church who said God was against interracial marriage. The God I knew was not about that.
My lifelong spiritual journey, experiencing a variety of denominations and the richness and diversity among people of unbelievable faith, has anchored my story in a vision God put in my heart, revealing that what binds us all together is far greater than that which separates us.
But as I watched the 2016 election unfold, I saw fellow believers compromise on cornerstone principles of who are supposed to be together, as children of God. I felt again as I had as a young boy: there’s no way the God of the universe can be about this.
I got involved in politics, thinking that perhaps I could make a difference by engaging in that arena, but what I discovered on the campaign trail was that the solution was well beyond the reach of politics. At thousands of events and meetings, I looked into people’s eyes and saw lots of anger. And underneath that anger, I saw fear, pain, and sadness.
This is because people don’t know they are children of a living God and that they are designed with purpose and meaning. So while my political career ended, I kept the spiritual core of my team together, and before anyone ever heard of coronavirus, we started thinking about how we could overcome the division, despair, and death already out there. We decided we needed a new American awakening. And we see three key strategies for infusing hope to counter the despair – pandemic or otherwise.
First, we commit to employing any means possible to tell people they were made for purpose and meaning, and they can have a personal encounter with the God of the Universe who loves them and has something more for them.
As Christians and as God’s people together, the church, we have the greatest opportunity to change the world in our lifetime. Too many people are experiencing spirit-crushing loss, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, to the extent they are literally killing themselves at alarming rates.
People need to see the light of God’s story transforming us before they accept what we say is true. A living witness of redemption and sacrifice speaks volumes. People of faith can show that there is a path and a way forward, but we can only get there if we allow God to restore our souls.
As we seek to show others how to encounter God, we first have to let Him change us, personally and collectively. Shouldn’t those inside the hurch look, sound, and think differently from one another? Think about the shocking message Paul wrote to the Galatians: “We’re not Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free, but one in Christ.”
Paul used as examples the opposite ends of every spectrum of his time being brought together as one. We can share that same astounding truth with today’s world. That means Republican and Democrat, socialist and capitalist, police officer and protester, bearing with and believing in one another.
While the members of the fundamentalist church of my upbringing were good folks, they just didn’t think children of God who were different from one another should be together. I think we are getting to the point where we are ready for more than that.
But I can’t push for this on my own. Honestly, I’m not all that much alone. As a mid-fifties white guy, I can’t offer that much without, say, my sister Marisa, the leader of our team, and my brother, Calvin, an amazing young visionary. Perhaps I’m better as a frontman for a great, racially diverse team.
And the same holds true for all of us. None of us can do it alone, nor do we count for much alone. But our final destiny is for all of us together, all around the throne. As we focus on that, it becomes more true in the here and now, and we realize there is no “them,” only “us.”
So, as the family of God, why not us, right here and right now? As we embrace this possibility and believe in the vision, we can live into this together, and nothing can stop us. I truly believe that ALL of us, united, is what it will take to restore hope and bring about a great American Awakening, turning back the spiritual, psychological, and emotional pandemics of this age, which are just as damaging as the physical.