I do not like pain. Really. I do not like it. But they say pain serves a purpose: Pain tells us when something is wrong. Pain also occurs when drastic steps have been taken to fix something that was wrong. Everyone who has ever gone through major surgery understands this.
You face double the pain when the two come together and that is bound to happen for anyone seeking to live a Christlike life. First, there is the pain of identifying something specifically wrong with your life in spirit, thought, and/or deed. Sometimes the error is so deeply engrained that it is a tangible part of what defines you. Next is the pain that comes with making a clear, meaningful, and permanent correction. Then, and only then, healing and recovery can occur.
Here is an example in down-to-earth terms:
1. We love God and we love our country.
2. No matter how many good people immigrate into our country, some bad ones slip in, too, and it only takes a few of the bad guys to do a lot of damage (witness 9-11-01).
3. A conflict arises (or should) when we seek to be Christlike but desire to "protect" our country by turning away immigrants because some might do us harm (rather than recognizing where our real safety lies as revealed in 2 Chronicles 7:14).
4. You have to make a decision to be totally Christlike or seek a worldly solution to national security.
It isn't pretty but it is true. Denial only cancels the hope of change and healing.
Final note: I am not a fan of the modern Episcopal Church. But I do have respect for a recent stand they have taken and thank Tom Wiles* for sharing it. You can read it here.
*Tom Wiles is Executive Minister for the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island. We were also roommates our Senior year at Oklahoma Baptist University. I had the great privilege of having his mother-in-law, Marilyn Bryant, as pianist when I served in my first staff position out of college at First Baptist Church, Lindsay, OK.