As we celebrate our nation’s day of independence, I reflect on how it also reminds us of the great divides and conflicts through which we have endured. Great change always comes through great struggle and wrestling of ideas before a move forward is made. Even that process is messy and difficult.
Moody’s ministry in the Civil War
When the Civil War began, D.L. Moody chose not to enlist, as he felt he could not morally make the choice to be part of bloodshed, no matter what his political views were. This choice, however, propelled him into an effective ministry that crossed the divides and provided healing in a nation that was so torn.
Outside of Chicago was a base for volunteer soliders, and Moody spent many hours there evangelizing soldiers. At first he relied on others to do the preaching, as he believed his lack of education did not make him qualified, but he began to grow in boldness to share this love of God. He ministered on battlefields to Union and Confederate soldiers alike.
A love for all
What drove Moody’s work was the compelling need to introduce others to Jesus, especially if they were going off to battle where there was a great likelihood that they may be facing eternity soon. He saw that the gospel is for everyone; even if a person’s viewpoint on issues was different than his, that did not change their eternal need for salvation.
More than forcing someone to believe just so they do not face eternal damnation, Moody was introducing people into the freeing love of Jesus.
Reconciliation for today
In today’s society, we are faced with many divisive issues. While there may not be all out battle like the Revolutionary War or Civil War, our culture still is in conflict. We tend to shun those who think differently and cloister together with those who affirm our beliefs. But life has not changed– people still need Jesus, and we are the voice for this. To abandon our mission is to forsake not just someone’s eternal destiny but the opportunity for reconciliation.
Perhaps if we were offering people the hope of God who meets them in their pain and brokenness, it would change some of the anger and tension and open the door for better conversations. Moody was ahead of his time in reaching out across both sides of the battle, but he did it not out of a self-righteous behavior. He knew who his God was and this transforming power.
So today as we celebrate our nation’s freedom, let us also be mindful of the hearts that still need the freedom of Jesus. We are the voices for reconciliation. Let us lay aside agendas and be messengers of peace.