It is a strange time in our lives as Christians.
Many of our friends see things one way, while others see things entirely different. On important and divisive issues, we all seem to see in various shades of gray. People who like things “black and white” often struggle to remain in conversations in times like this. Too often, we leave the room too quickly.
For most of my life, I’ve heard people say they’d prefer not to discuss church and politics. They avoid these conversations like they avoid death itself. From my perspective, the times seem to be changing. It is becoming more and more evident that people are wanting to engage these divisive and controversial issues. So many questions are being asked about faith/beliefs these days.
There also seems to be an increasing need for these conversations. Some of it may be good old fashioned “venting” and “lamentation.” Other times, it is to learn from one another, and to grow in our understanding. Still, other times it is to try and persuade others to change. The political climate and the technological advances of social media and hand held cameras are bringing all sorts of issues to the forefront of public thought and conversation. It seems that I cannot go anywhere without being engaged in discussions about the issues of religion and politics.
I would like to encourage you to be a person who is sensitive when you are engaged.
Please also be aware that lackadaisical responses are evoking all forms of frustration. People want to talk. I want to encourage you to find ways of expressing your points of view without alienating others in the process. I want to encourage you to be a person who listens and seeks ways to respond in love.
Finally, I want to suggest to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that I believe this current climate is an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ in very clear and relevant ways. My faith is beginning to make me see that every conflict is an opportunity. As followers of the Christ, we are called to respond to conflict in a different way (see Matthew 5:9; Luke 6:27-36). People are confused, divided, torn, and worried. This present conflict is a great opportunity for us to share Christ’s love. I want to encourage you to rediscover how our diversity of opinion, and our diversity of thought are strengths to be embraced.
If you dare to care enough to listen, I believe you will find that our differences make us stronger. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul suggested that he did not just do what was best for himself, instead he did what was best for others so that others may be saved (cf 1 Cor. 10:31). We are challenged by scripture to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5). Finally, I want to encourage you to stay in the room, stay in the conversation, stumble forward with people who are different, embrace one another and share your heart and your ideas. There is really no healthy way forward unless we go there together.