Member News

June 2021 Member Letter

June 10, 2021

Dear Brethren,

Summer is slowly arriving here in Texas! It is later than we normally see, but I am sure it will soon be in full force. After more than a year of lockdowns, disruptions of activities, canceling activities, rescheduling activities and then rescheduling again, a growing sense of normalcy is taking over here in the United States. Over the weekend of May 22-23 we hosted more than 40 people (19 couples from the Focused Mentoring Program) at the office, which gave us a taste of normalcy, reminding us of a prepandemic life. Everyone greatly appreciated it!

Along with the enthusiasm of getting back to normal and the changing weather conditions, the month of May also brought some sad anniversaries, reminding us of difficult times from the past and portending more difficult times ahead for our country and the world. Here in the United States, we witnessed the one-year anniversary of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The murder conviction of the police officer who caused Mr. Floyd’s death didn’t erase the frustration and sadness experienced over what happened just one year ago. And on the heels of the George Floyd anniversary, there was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, race massacre, an event that most had never heard of. That story is one filled with violence toward a group of people for actions over which they had no control.

These two anniversaries of human tragedy are not unique. In fact, the story of humanity from the Garden of Eden is filled with violence and injustice. But there is also a very clear message—violence will never bring about justice, and certainly not when it’s violence against a group of people simply because of race or nationality.

In between these two anniversaries, we celebrated Memorial Day here in the United States, a national holiday to honor those who have given their lives in all the wars our country has fought. The toll of the dead from every war since the Revolutionary War (and a couple even before that) is an incredible number, one that would add up to whole generations lost. The worst recorded war for the loss of human life was World War II, which was fought in large part because of injustice and national offenses. It was possibly the last war that seemed to have clear-cut moral divides—good versus evil. Every war since that time has been more difficult to sort out. It is estimated that 75 million people died in WWII, 3 percent of the world’s population in 1941. Today that would be equivalent to 225,000,000 people, or two-thirds the population of the United States.

Not all those killed in WWII were soldiers. Around 40 million were civilians—individuals and families who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, dying because they were caught between warring armies. Then, of course, there were the 6 million Jews and others killed simply because they belonged to a targeted ethnic group. Surely all of these individuals would cry out for justice as well. The harsh reality is that war has never solved the issue of injustice. Each war in the past century planted the seeds for another war and then another war. There seems to be no end.

Those soldiers who died in these wars and are honored on Memorial Day gave their lives for a purpose. That is not an easy thing to do. Most of them were young men, in the prime of life, 19 to 25 years of age. Their lives had only begun. I have attended a number of Memorial Day assemblies at schools where my daughters were students while growing up. There is a sadness that so many lost their lives, but also an appreciation for what they did for their country. Paul wrote about such a phenomenon in reference to Jesus Christ in Romans. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die” (Romans 5:7). Paul draws the contrast between giving your life for someone that you consider righteous and worth dying for to the fact that Christ gave His life knowing that we were all sinners. This scripture speaks powerfully about life and death and the real answer to injustice.

We live in a world today that seems more interested in furthering violence, hatred and division—setting groups one against another—rather than seeking peace. No doubt Satan’s influence on world affairs has created this chaotic atmosphere. This was not what God created man to become, but He did create us with freedom of choice. Sadly, under the influence of Satan, man has consistently chosen the wrong way. While recognizing injustice and desiring justice, man has failed to find solutions because he has consistently left God out of the process, assuming that more violence will bring an end to violence. It will simply never happen.

What about you and me? Where are we in all of this? Where is the Church? We see the injustice in the world. We see violence perpetrated against groups of people in virtually every nation on earth. Racism and hatred for others know no national boundaries. Yet to recognize a problem does not resolve the problem. Our responsibility is to practice true Christianity and not just give lip service to the principles that Christ taught. To mistreat another human being is to deny fundamental Christianity.

We must take Christ at His word. In what is called the Sermon on the Mount He stated, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). He said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Later, He said you are to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19). Peter explained that God’s desire is for everyone to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9). To repent means to change one’s life, to live by the higher standard set by Jesus Christ. Are we doing this? Can we truly claim the title of Christian? We certainly can’t if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the hatred, prejudice, division, immorality and violence that engulfs the world. And it is easy to do. Where does it end once one goes down that road? The answer to that question is why Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). You can love your country, love your family, hate injustice, and pray for justice without getting involved in the politics and governments of this world. That is what a Christian must do.

At some point God the Father will send Jesus Christ back to this earth as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), the One who will finally bring justice, peace and the end of conflict to the world. War will no longer be the solution to problems (Micah 4:3). Until that time, mankind seems committed to continuing down this very dark road of hatred and violence. If there was ever anything more clear, it is that we must choose, as Christians, a different path—one that will put us at odds with the world in which we live, a world from which we have chosen to be separate as we hold our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

Jim Franks