I think we can all agree that the last year or so has been an interesting one. Especially the last few months. I don’t remember a time where I have seen such an “us versus them” mentality, whether it be religion, who to vote for, foreign policy, etc. I’ve been processing and trying to walk through some things, but y’all I am struggling. I’m not writing this to share my personal opinions on specific topics. I’m writing this because these are some of my observations and maybe some of you can relate as well.
We have lost the ability to have conservations with people we disagree with. Conversations with people can be hard enough—throw a topic where there is disagreement on the table and well, there goes that table. When we enter a conversation where the topic at hand is something we are passionate about and believe in fiercely, it is hard to listen to opposing views. We just want to tell the other person they are wrong and convince them why we are right. I’m not saying this will be easy; it may even be one of the hardest things you’ll do, but I think we will all benefit from a little more listening. Listen to what the people around you have to say, and if you still disagree with them, show them love anyway. Walk away from the table the same way that you sat down.
Social media—It can be great. I personally love posting pictures of my coffee constantly and if you haven’t already, you’ve probably considered unfollowing me because of all of the coffee. But social media can also be toxic. I’ve felt like throwing my phone more than once in response to things that I’ve seen lately. I mean I retweet and share things too, but sometimes we get a little carried away. We don’t need to post a comment on everything we see and we certainly don’t need to get into Twitter wars and comment wars on Facebook, because let’s be real—it is highly unlikely that someone will change their mind based off of a comment that is made. When we’ve reached that point of arguing on social media, we have already hit the “I am right the other person is wrong” mindset and there’s no coming back from that. We choose what we engage in on social media. I know for my own heart, I need to take a step back sometimes.
Honestly, the thing I am struggling with the most is seeing how Christians are treating other people. Growing up I was taught a song which said, “And they will know that we are Christians by our love.” Christians, we are doing a horrible job. Obviously we are never going to be able to love people perfectly, but my goodness we can do much better. Y’all no wonder we are the worst when it comes to loving people outside the Church. We can’t even love the people in the Church well. When another Christian has a different opinion than us, we rip them to shreds. We accuse them of not really knowing Jesus to begin with. We take Scripture out of context and throw it their faces. We show them anything but love. People outside of the Church see this too. It’s time to press pause and love well, even in the midst of disagreement.
I’m sharing all of this with you because I think we can do better. I know we can do better. There are three challenges I am going to end with. This is for you and for me too:
- Listen to other people. Fight the urge to “convince” someone that they are wrong. Listen and respond with gentleness as best that you can. Forget perfection; let’s just strive for effort.
- Find your safe place and your safe group of people. Find people in your life that you can have a conversation with and really be honest with. These people don’t need to be people that agree with you about everything; they shouldn’t. Just people who will respect you and you’ll respect back. Be vulnerable and embrace community. Be real and let people be real back.
- Love well. Regardless of where you land on certain issues, at the end of the day we are commanded to show love and grace just like Jesus did for us. Will it be easy? Heck no. Should we do it anyway? Heck yes. Live each day loving people as best as you can. Make an effort to go above and beyond, inconveniencing yourself along the way to love other people. Find someone who you come across on a regular/daily/weekly basis who does not look, live, or act like you and show them love and kindness.
Let’s set the tone for 2017.