What Can I Do?

The words to the iconic children’s song “This Little Light of Mine” have been playing through my head these past few days. “All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine.” Those cheerful words seem an overly optimistic counterpoint to the “other” news now filling the airwaves and social media.

The same sentiments are etched on the glass outside my office — the mission statement of the North Pacific Union Conference. The simple words cast a wide net of powerful import, to share with our world “the distinctive, Christ-centered, Seventh-day Adventist message of Hope and Wholeness.”

But what do those words mean in the midst of the roiling dysfunction of immigration enforcement, which has galvanized our bitterly divided nation? How do our words of mission spring to life in ways that make a positive difference to our world, in our communities? How does our Adventist mission become the light of the world Jesus intended — not someday, but right here, right now?

The path of least resistance may be to jump into the public fray, to join the rising volume of political opinion on one side or the other, to become just another partisan pundit on social media. Or, we may be tempted to avoid the verbal scrum altogether, to turn away in despair and disgust, to dump our moral imperatives by the shredder.

But there is a better path. The words of Micah 6:8 ring clearly in a Scripture song through my mind: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

When strident voices urge me to unthinkingly react, these simple instructions give me a blueprint for thoughtful action. This moral stance pulls my head from the proverbial sand, opens my eyes, helps me understand a way forward in the midst of today’s cacophony. The way forward is not a pastoral walk in the wilderness, but a nitty-gritty application of Christ's values in a counter-Christian culture. It's not America first or religion first, but Jesus first.

Our careful, forthright stance on religious liberty has at times been misinterpreted by some conscientious members to invoke silence in matters of government. Indeed, the vertical relationship between human and divine in the first four commandments of God’s law discourages us from legislating religious or spiritual compliance. By contrast, however, the last six commandments compel us toward advocacy of horizontal human interactions of integrity, with justice and mercy combined.

Our corporate church may put out official "position" statements, but what really matters is what you and I say and do to let the light and values of Jesus shine all around our proverbial neighborhoods.

What I could've said, what I should've done in the past is beyond me to redeem. So what can I do from this point on to make a difference? My following suggestions are offered only as an opinion, as part of the conversation we must have within the body of Christ — especially when our world has drifted far from the essentials of His teachings. Resist the urge to parse these to oblivion. They are a work in progress, a mere slice of the pie in how I can interact as a temporary citizen of this world, until beckoned to an eternal home.

  • I can in my words and actions support the rule and consequences of just laws when they are applied with humane care and respect.
  • I can speak in opposition when civic or governmental decisions, dishonest words or punitive actions put the well-being of law-abiding citizens or visitors in jeopardy.
  • I can clearly show that attitudes of ethnic supremacy or nationalistic exclusionism do not represent the values of those who follow the teachings of Jesus.
  • I can demonstrate my opposition to unethical or unjust actions, even if they seem to accomplish a desired result. The end does not justify the means.
  • I can value all adults and children the way Jesus does — as children of the King, no matter how damaged they (and I) may be.
  • I can model God-honoring attitudes, even on social media, resisting the urge to join denigration and disrespect.
  • I can join with other community partners to make a positive difference in the health and well-being of people close to home.
  • I can put action behind the iconic words of Ellen White, who encouraged God’s people to be true to duty as the needle to the pole, to stand for the right, though the heavens fall.

There is a time to be quietly in prayer and a time to follow God’s promptings to action. Silence must never give consent to evil. God’s people are called to reflect Jesus’ light in this world. His exhortation to us was simple: “Let your light so shine, that all may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Does this mean waving a flag? Picketing a detention center? The emotions of the day can sweep us unthinkingly along, but we should resist becoming part of anyone’s mob. These are issues for each person and God to decide, together, the answers to the question: What can I do?

The crux of the matter for me is, what glorifies God in this, our broken world? I think Jesus said it best: If His light is in you, let it shine — to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God…all around the neighborhood and beyond.

This article by Steve Vistaunet, assistant to the president for communication for the North Pacific Union and Gleaner editor, was originally published by North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Gleaner/GleanerNow.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8847
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The internet has given voice to every hue and cry. Bug man’s corner is now just an I pad away. Reason is obsolete, Noise fills the ether. Thank God fo the still small voice. It will prevail, hold fast this too shall pass.

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Excellent article with practical advice on what we can do as individuals in responding to the present moral crisis. Two recent points that were made by individuals that may help us.

  1. President Trump speaking about the Red Hen restaurant controversy—but inadvertently making a candid confession about our present national course:
    “If something is dirty on the outside it’s probably just as dirty on the inside”.
  2. Defense Secretary Mattis speaking about his present role:
    “All I can do is hold the line the very best I know how”.

Good advice on both counts!

So if I oppose President Trump I should be able to disrupt the private lives of those who work for him? Following them to restaurants, their homes or on their vacations? And then the question becomes how far down the line should we go with this? How about people who voted for him? Because that is exactly where this leads. Those who may not be able to run into one of those high ranking officials in Washington but watch and see either members of the media or a congressperson get up and say it’s ok to disrupt the private lives of fellow citizens if they disagree with your polititical leanings might say hey I know someone down the street that voted for Trump so I will go disrupt their lives.

This becomes “tribalism” Because Mr. Trump runs his mouth, and he does run his mouth, we who disagree have every right to march or protest in a civil fashion. What we don’t have the right is to decide that this translates into the civil liberties of those who think differently. This road leads to a unhealthy citizenry. Civil citizenry is everyone’s obligation. This starts by respecting those who we disagree with in just about every political, religious, or social position. Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, and right on down the line had those who disagreed with every position they held but never did those men have their staff harassed as this President. In my opinion, those who approve of this treatment may need to check to see if they would like to see themself’s treated in this fashion because of who they worked for.

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I voted for President Trump and think he’s doing a GREAT JOB, The article is a thinly disguised attack on his administration. I’m from a legal immigrant family. Send all the invaders and their supporters back where they came from.

I agree with the content and tone of the article including the “iconic words”.
Too bad they are plagiarized iconic words. As I recall, EGW found them in the Review and Herald(!), passed them along to an assistant to be edited then published them under her own name.

I wonder what would have happened if our church had told her, “Stop doing that!” (Even once.)

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I bet you are talking about building up and maintaining high moral standards in the WH as an example to be followed by the rest of the country, right? It must be it, what else could it be?

I wonder how many parents are actually encouraging their children to be like and to act like Trump.
Bud, do you have children? Is that what you are encouraging them to do, and to become?

Just curious.

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George, you’re smarter than this. Are you saying Trump is the most immoral president we’ve ever had. Morality goes deeper than what CNN and MSNBC can dig up from the guy’s past. I would guess 99% of Congress would be guilty of that kind of immorality.

Then there’s always Clinton, the icon of virtue, along with his wife who lied her way through the State department. She slid into Washington on her husband’s coattails; and when he was caught with his pants down, **IN THE WHITE HOUSE, IN THE OVAL OFFICE, WHILE PREESIDENT, **she defended him and demonized the women instead. Of course, her goal always was the whitehouse, and couldn’t afford to disconnect herself from her entrance ticket. Both of therm are the epitome of political machinery gone amuck. Her only qualification during the election was that she is a woman; and wanted to be the first woman president. Her party pulled every dirty trick to get her on the way; and now all the dirt is getting dumped out of the bag and the LEFT is going wild. I have no idea why Trump is demonized. What exactly has he done to merit this kind of hatred? Give me a list. And don’t start with the border. That situation has been going on for much more than thirty years.

Since this last election, it became clear that Democrats have to do something about middle America since that’s who elected Trump. The solution - populate the cities in the rust belt with illegals and “dreamers” and create a guaranteed voter base in the mid-west.

By the way - you should see the border FORTIFICATIONS erected on the northern border, as if they’re expecting an invasion from Canada - buildings encased with some sort steel netting - without windows; and armed, marine type border agents.

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In today’s culture “ethnic supremacy” is almost pure evil. A sin we can denounce from the pulpit, with “amens.”

Yet I remember the OT placed huge value on God choosing Israel and its Jewish peoples above all other nations. It was a point of Hebrew pride. It puzzles me from our cultural perspective, that God and his prophets had no moral or ethical conflict, for thousand years, with “nationalistic exclusionism.” The same can be said that we have taught that Sabbath keepers are God’s people while Rome follows the Antichrist. Is not this a from of “exclusionism?” To create one church “white (good)” and the other church “black (all wrong)?”

It appears to be that many truism of faith are culture bound.

1 Kings 10:9–God loves Israel
Ps 105–God by oath made and everlasting covenant with Israel
Ps 135–Israel is God’s own possession
Isa 41:8–Israel I have chosen, Abraham is my friend
Jer 31–I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.

etc. etc…

I haven’t heard of a worse one. Over 3,000 blunt lies so far, the sexual deviancy, the lack of honor, the financial corruption, being in bed with the foes and disconnecting from the allies, the redirection of money to the already rich, doing nothing for the middle/poor classes, the constant scandals in the WH, and counting.

No, I am not even saying he is a bad Prez, far from that. But he certainly does not represent me, as an American, to the rest of the world. Does he represent you?

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Where to begin… Should you be reminded - “I did not have sex with that woman.” The Whitewater scandal - Benghazi - Chelsea’s wedding plans and yoga lessons on the State Department emails - 60 minute speeches to the Russians for gazillion dollars to the Clinton Foundation - “If you want to keep your doctor, you can.” - “Affordable” health care. If you want an icon of morality maybe Ted Wilson would fit the bill?

We are all a product of our times. Any woman passing a construction site in down town Manhattan during lunch knows what Trump is all about, having spent his life on those sites - definitely insensitive. Then there’s Obama - if he didn’t wear a daisy wreath on his head, I’m sure Michelle did. Then there’s the Chicago connection with the “former” members of Black Panthers, etc. Our past makes us who we are. You can’t get someone old enough to be president without some cultural baggage.

I thought we SDAs are all about the separation of church and state. Morality doesn’t come from the government. Never has.

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I appreciate the clear, simple, and practical thoughts expressed in this article. I would just add that the various courses of action that are shared do not constitute an Adventist specific response to the times in which we live, they detail a Christian response, regardless of denominational labels or affiliations.

Thanks…

Frank

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Ha, Sirje, when we point out something evil Trump has done/is doing, your only defense is “but Clinton!” “But Obama!” As if their offenses were anywhere near the scale or destructiveness of what Trump is doing.

We talk about the thousands of well-documented lies Trump has told, and you trot out Obama’s statement “If you want to keep your doctor, you can”–obviously an aspiration on his part but hardly a hard and fast promise.

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My point is that Trump is no worse than the ones in the past. The difference is the selective interpretations made by the media that actually hates him, and is able to turn every statement into a negative. The “lies” I listed for Clinton and Obama are lies, nevertheless - and they are biggies.

When you say “well-documented lies” I would very much for you to list the top three. Thanks.

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Not sure these are the most egregious or dangerous, but here are a few. You can find many more on

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/

  1. Trump: “Crime in Germany is way up.” Fact: It’s at a 30 year low.

  2. Trump regarding immigration: “We have thousands of judges” Fact: they have fewer than 400.

  3. Trump: A “horrible law” requires that children be separated from parents “once they cross the border into the United States” Fact: The law requires no such thing; it was Trump’s own policy.

  4. Trump: Says James Clapper said “that the FBI was spying on (Trump’s) campaign.”
    Fact: Clapper said the target was Russia, not the campaign.

  5. Trump: North Korea has “agreed to denuclearization” Fact: They have not.

6, Trump: “Only fools, or worse, say that the Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed.” Fact: the PO makes a lot of money with Amazon

  1. Trump: There is “substantial evidence of voter fraud.”
    Fact: There is none.

  2. Trump: “We have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.” Fact: He ranks last

  3. Trump: “Black homeownership just hit the highest level it has ever been in the history of our country.” Fact: Black ownership has fallen almost every year since 2004.

Well, maybe that’s enough for now. I’m not claiming these are big lies, but they’re lies. We know Clinton lied about his affair with whatserface, but maybe you could tell us what Obama’s “whopper” was.

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It’s not just the size or egregious nature of the lies. Other presidents have done so, see Nixon and Clinton. AlthoughTrump competes with them, he is not alone.

Where he is clearly in another universe is the volume of lies that issues forth from his administration, and his own Twitter account. This is not the creation of the so called biased, fake news media. They are easily fact checkable, and often verifiable by reading his own, self incriminating statements. He lies as naturally as he breathes.

I grew up in New York. In the 80’s, we knew all about him and the unprincipled con man that he was. How he systematically denied housing to minorities. How he took out a full page newspaper ad as he led the charge that ended up railroading two innocent African African men in the Central Park murders. They were later pardoned. He never uttered a word of apology… just like he never owned his racist leading in the fallacious birther movement.

Trump’s lying and unprincipled character and dealings are no media creation. He’s worked hard to craft what he is and does. And, this is what we are now saddled with as a nation.

Thanks…

Frank

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What I’m noticing is that most, if not all, of the accusations against Trump contain words like evil - liar - immoral - corrupt - scandalous - racist, of course - ALL PERSONAL, AMBIGUOUS JUDGMENTS. What i haven’t seen are specific examples. it is those examples that I’m comparing with the favoured Democrats that have gone astray. So, basically, there has been an automatic dislike of Trump, and a continual search, through his life and his activities to give reasons for the feelings that were there in the first place.

If someone dislikes us, there would be plenty of proof available for each of us that might prove their FEELINGS. This is a dislike with Trump, in search of reasons.

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When we begin to determine which President was "worse " in a particular area be it sex, discrimination, or you name it, don’t we become judges. The Church is full of judging or placing a certain value on sin. Take for example the health catagorie. While smoking or drinking are absolute non starters for membership, obesity which leads to many health problems is determined to be acceptable. In reality this is picking and choosing a level of acceptability.

Political judging usually, not always, comes down to our individual leanings. Republicans and Democrates judge their leaders in light of their own leanings. What Clinton engaged in with Miss Luwenski (s) was judged to be so unacceptable by Republicans because it was a tool to degrade the President. Democrates on the other hand said this was just sex. A tool to limit damage and remind us all that sex outside of marriage is not all that unusual among the majority of Americans. Fast forward to the current President and the Porn Star. It was not just sex any more to the Democrates. Republicans responded that the sex took place before the current President was even a candidate. Tools, just tools!! We the people, Democrates and republicans judge and defend leaders based on our leanings.

This is just one example, sex, but foreign issues, domestic issues and immigration which is both foreign and domestic issues combined are “judged” through the lens of Americans based on party leanings. The SDA Church uses their own lens to “judge” members and leadership. Some of us see WO or acceptance of LBGTQ people through one lens while others use a completely different lens. It really goes nowhere if we are honest with ourselves. It makes for good chatter here in this setting, but in reality, the bottom line is minds are like concrete, well mixed and hard as a rock.

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How many times must it be said - - the wrongs of any previous president do not excuse the wrongs of the current president. I find such reasoning very unfortunate.

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I only wonder if those who so adamantly defend and excuse Trump are also proud having him as the POTUS.

A book word reading is,

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