A GOOD NEIGHBOR Andy Hollifield 1-18-17
On the news this week we have heard people calling for protests and riots and “civil disobedience” all because we disagree on various politicians or their opinions. Two years ago, we all loved to hate Donald Trump. He was just another rich, arrogant, reality TV star. Widely renowned as a suspected womanizer, chauvinist, and probably someone who a lot of us would be very content never to make acquaintance with in our lifetime. Certainly not someone we would want our daughters to bring home as a boyfriend. Now 24 months later we have all turned on each other simply because of an election. I am not going to make this post entirely about politics but this election has brought to the forefront a serious problem that has been lying dormant and festering for probably an entire generation. We are no longer neighbors. I am not talking about sitting on the front porch type of neighbors but I am talking about the helping a man with a carload of kids get his tire changed in the rain on the way to church kind of neighbor. Here in the south, I remember those type of neighbors. The old man on 19-23 near Weaverville that picked up a teenage boy walking home at night in the dark cause his car had quit on the interstate type of neighbor. I never knew his name but I have never forgot him and still appreciate his kindness. I know we live in a different world than in 1982 but we can still be kind to people. Jesus gave commandment in Luke 6:27 to “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, (28) Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. That is not a suggestion but a command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We don’t have to agree and we don’t have to compromise but we don’t have to beat each other up either. We need to stop and listen to ourselves. Listen to what we are saying. We are Americans! The same ones whose fathers and grandfathers were part of “the greatest generation”. Not called that by themselves but by those of us that have come after them. Not called that because of their diplomacy or riches or social standing but because they were willing to give all of that up for the simple idea that this country could not and would not allow the spread of tyranny around the world anywhere that it threatened freedom and were willing to give their life to keep it from happening. “Not over my dead body” was an old saying that used to mean something. That was where they were willing to draw the line and back it up. Now here we are almost 75 years later ready to riot and loot and steal and destroy the property of other people that they have worked hard for and all because we disagree with each other over issues that need resolving in this country. The last time that there was this much division in the country was in the civil rights era of the sixties and the country worked through that and made great progress and now we want to throw that away and fight each other over an office that almost all of us couldn’t pay the filing fee to even run for. What happened to the golden rule? You remember that one, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What happened to being kind to one another? What happened to being a real neighbor and giving or loaning because you could and you had something someone else needed? What was wrong with living that way? “What goes around comes around”. Have we forgotten that old saying?
I have to admit, the political climate has got me disgusted now almost as much as it has had for the last year and a half. I am embarrassed that any of the candidates in the general election for president were even considered to hold the highest office in our country. I can still remember when any of them would have been considered as someone you wanted to avoid doing business with because their ethics were questionable at best and criminal at worst. But I have known situations this week of people who had a legitimate need of items that someone else had and wasn’t using and wouldn’t lend them. That got me to thinking about what has happened to people that we no longer have any compassion for each other or tolerance for any opinions that differ from our own. I said tolerance, not acceptance. For years, those of us that are conservative, bible practicing Christians have been told how we should be tolerant while we have been force-fed junk that not only violates our constitutional rights but also our biblical beliefs. And now we are at the place where someone has finally heard what working class Americans have been saying and was smart enough to adopt those sentiments as his own and manage, in spite of questionable morals, to get himself elected as president. The ironic thing is that the same people that called us bigots and intolerant and narrow-minded are now being all the things they have accused us of for years and now they are calling for riots and demonstrations and want to make claims of whether or not Donald Trump is a legitimate president. Let’s look at that for a minute.
If you base it on opinion and not on votes, when was the last time we had a “legitimate” president? What about Barrack Obama and the birth certificate issue? Before him it was George Bush and the hanging chads in Florida. Before him it was Bill Clinton; accused rapist and womanizer and adulterer. Before him was Bush the elder and he just wasn’t Reagan. Speaking of which; How can a clown (Ronald McDonald) or a former actor possibly be qualified to be president? Maybe he can act like a president. What about a peanut farmer from a town in Georgia that nobody has ever heard of? He can’t be smart enough to be president. A Baptist preacher; what about separation of church and state? I failed to mention the draft dodger accusations for a couple of them. Remember those comments. My point is that in my lifetime, based on opinions, we haven’t had a “legitimate” president. Based on the votes, they all have been legitimate. And before anyone says it, the electoral college system is what was put in place by the framers of the constitution and no one wants to change it until their side looses and then all of a sudden it’s unfair. Bottom line is this; as of Friday afternoon Donald Trump will be our next president for the following four years like it or not. We are all Americans if we were born here or have become naturalized citizens. Can we at least agree on that much and act like it?
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I have been trying my best to keep my mouth shut because my hope is not in any of them. I have read the back of the book, the bible, and I already know how the story ends. We win (born again Christians)!!! Now back to the bigger problem. All of this division has come about as a result of an increasingly selfish attitude. “Me and my four and no more” to quote an old saying. There was a time not too long ago when that wasn’t the attitude. If a neighbor was hurt and couldn’t tend his fields or his barn was destroyed, everybody else gave some of their time and effort and lumber or tools or whatever they could give and took care of that neighbor. If his cow died, milk just magically appeared on his porch overnight. Even if he was sorry and no account, people still loved his family and took care of them. I’m not even talking about Christians, I’m talking about men that might drink and cuss and fight but when you needed help you could count on them. I remember a man in Martel Village that might steal your gas if he was out but then when he seen the hood up on your car would stop and try to help you. The first neighbor I met in 1973 was a man who came over while it was raining and helped me dig a ditch cause our driveway was flooding. It turns out he was really bad to drink but he provided for his family and seldom missed work and was always a good neighbor. I didn’t agree with a lot of things he done and he didn’t ever go to church but I came to love him and his family as I grew up. We didn’t have to agree in order to be good neighbors. Jesus himself said that the greatest commandment was to love God and the second was to “Love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other greater commandment than these.” (Mark 12:31) Now that’s a pretty bold statement and if that was what Jesus said, shouldn’t that still be what we practice today?
My dad was a giving man and one that did far more than he ever let people find out about. He didn’t need accolades and awards but only the approval of his Savior. I try to run my ministry with that same kind of attitude and try to conduct my life the same way. My ministry board is a group of folks that give far more than anyone ever finds out about but I am convinced that a lot of us preachers will be having to step aside at judgement and wait on them and folks like them to get their rewards. Why can we all not have that kind of attitude? Where is it written that we have to be in the spotlight all the time? Where is it written that we have to be right 100 percent of the time? Also, where is it written that I have the right not to be offended?
We don’t have to always agree on everything. We don’t even have to be buds or for that matter even like each other. A man once said to Jesus, If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us. We may not can do much of anything else but we can have compassion on our neighbor. In Luke 10 we read the story of the good Samaritan. This man was considered to be a neighbor not because he agreed with this Jewish fellow that fell among thieves, or because he had money, but because he showed mercy on the man in need. We can all do that. To quote an insurance company slogan “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” What kind of difference can you make in your world by being a good neighbor? Your chances of leading someone to the Lord is a lot better if they see his compassion and mercy in you. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!