The world is spinning for me right now. So much has happened in the past couple of months that I don’t even know how to begin processing it all:
- In South Carolina, an African-American man was shot in the back multiple times by a police officer. After killing him, the officer planted evidence to corroborate a story that he made up as a defense.
- Religious freedom legislation in Indiana has raised a firestorm of media (and social media) attention, leading many people on both sides of the issue to draw hard lines in the sand.
- A Vice President of a religious university was demoted, seemingly because of a sermon he delivered on peace. A few weeks later, at a separate religious university, a prominent and tenured theologian was laid off for questionable reasons.
These situations, and many others like them, have led to some BIG questions, big discussions. They are conversations that need to happen. But instead of conversing like adults, many of us - on all sides of the issues - are making assumptions and shouting with vitriolic disdain. Then we’re surprised when the other side gets defensive and responds in kind, resulting in a multi-tiered escalation that can only conceivably result in destruction.
Everyone, including myself, wants to be heard over everyone else.
Thad Norvell pointed out that when we (Christians) approach a potentially divisive issue, we should focus less on our position and more on our posture. He stated it so:
No matter how correct your position, if your posture toward a world you believe to be “still sinners” is anything other than a love that stubbornly refuses to condemn, but instead gives itself away to point to Jesus giving himself away, you are on your own. You are not standing on the truth of the scriptures or the shoulders of Jesus. Right position without the posture of God revealed in Jesus is not the Gospel.
Carry on with the discussions.... We need those conversations. Just remember that if we claim the name of Jesus, we are not ambassadors of moral positions or good behavior; we are ambassadors of a transcendent reconciliation possible only in Jesus, who made God’s love for sinners known not by a posture of condemnation, but of cross-shaped love.
I am convinced, along with Norvell, that we (I include myself in this) have become obsessed with our position on tough topics and have forgotten the posture that Christ took for us - and calls us to take as well (Luke 9:23).
But I still keep catching myself defending my position on a topic instead of committing myself to a Christ-like posture. It’s easy for me to get caught up in shouting matches - particularly on outlets like Facebook, where it’s easy to conveniently forget that it’s a real person on the other side of the screen.
From now on, I am committing to converse with love and respect instead of shouting my stance on an issue. That’s not to suggest that I don’t have a position or that I won’t speak my position - I’m not taking a vow of silence. It simply means that I’m going to listen first. I’m going to do everything I can to see things from the perspective of the other side. And when I do speak, I will speak quietly and respectfully, from a posture of love - on my knees in prayer.
We are a noisy world, and shouting just gets lost in the din. I think God is telling me that, at least for now, I need to speak in a whisper. I need to trust more in his voice than in my own.
And I hope whispers are contagious.