A shorter version of this post appeared here on Seriously Write. Hebrews 12.
- In the US, more than 6,363,729 cases of COVID-19 have been reported by Johns Hopkins.
- The number of reported deaths of loved ones is more than 190,887.
- In US politics, polls waffle back and forth, showing Joe Biden slightly ahead on one day and Donald Trump ahead on the next. Approximately 8-10% are undecided.
- Peaceful protests occur in some of our cities. Violence, looting, and riots in others.
‘Tis the season. The political arguments have begun, or rather, have merely continued. The election season conflicts of four years ago never ended. How can Christian writers help to keep peace in a fiercely divided nation mid-pandemic and racial conflict? Therein lies the rub.How can Christian writers help to keep peace in a fiercely divided nation mid-pandemic and racial conflict? Therein lies the rub. #Election2020 #WritingCommunity Click To Tweet
If you’re active on social media or you have an extended family, you know that even Christians are starkly divided on many issues inherent in this year’s election. And yet, we are not allowed to remain entrenched in combative stances, for we are followers of Christ.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble, and by it many be defiled . . . If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Hebrews 12:14-15; Romans 12:18)
How do we live our lives in the way that these verses prescribe? And when? Emotions are high. Opinions and positions are nailed down. When do we politely walk away? When do we state our position and hold our ground? When do we avoid the discussion altogether? How do we notice the signs of a conflict that will explode?
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God…If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:19b-20, 26).
Three powerful tools allow us time to consider what is behind the words of another, to quiet our emotions, and to respond calmly.
- A deep breath.
- A silent prayer.
- A plan to listen in silence, to hold our tongue.
Still, things can get out of hand quickly! Suddenly emotions engage, and we find ourselves speaking before we intended or pushing into an explosive situation.
What are the warning signs?
A rant by the other, displaying no desire to understand opposing opinions, expressing hatred toward all who believe differently. They may have long-held prejudices. They’re angry with all who hold opposing viewpoints.
These indicate that a conversation might be entirely futile. Might be. As we sit in silence, listening to the tirade, we pray, attempting to determine if there is space for other viewpoints or words. If we speak, we may be wasting our time and adding fuel to the fire. Walking away might be our best option, unless the Lord leads otherwise.
Sometimes, for the good of the other, we must speak even in these situations, even if the other doesn’t like what we have to say. Positions of hatred harm the hater as much as those who are hated. Hating anyone is outside the bounds of Christian life. And yet, we all have hated and can feel hatred, even toward people we love, so we can relate.
It may be our obligation to speak in an attempt to help one who is filled with hatred to consider the other side and the reasons behind the actions of the other. Maybe they simply need encouragement. When the Holy Spirit opens this door, we walk through it, even when there
may be will be backlash. The Lord intends us to speak when called.
“..Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV).
When craftiness and human deceit have built a lie, we speak the truth in love as the Lord leads, even if speaking causes a reaction. Sometimes the truth must be stated in the defense of those Jesus listed in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46): the needy, the stranger/foreigner, the naked/homeless/trafficked/enslaved, the sick, and the imprisoned.
Given Jesus’ instruction, we must address the obscenity, slander, and malice of racism, especially in the lives of others who claim to be believers in Christ. We speak and write the truth gently, for the other is probably blind to their weakness. This requires prayer, honesty, love, and tact.
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:8-11 ESV).
Even in this topsy-turvy political climate, with strife and disagreement swirling, as demonstrated by the protests and riots all across our nation, we must write the truth when the time is right and when the Lord leads, no matter the pushback.
Do not be afraid. Write. Speak.Even in this topsy-turvy #political climate, with strife and disagreement swirling, we must write the truth when the time is right and when the Lord leads, no matter the pushback. Do not be afraid. Write. Speak. Click To Tweet
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4 ESV).