In the past year, it seems like the world has become more polarized with itself.
Even within families, differences have spread into insurmountable gaps that seem impossible to cross. Whether it’s discourse over the COVID-vaccine, the 2020 election, the attack on the capitol, racial justice, climate change, or any other number of hot topics, it seems anger and frustration permeate current conversations.
So what’s the answer?
Is it to continue squabbling on Facebook like a bunch of pecking chickens?
Is it to be abrasive and confrontational about your personal beliefs to friends, family members, or even strangers?
I think we can find the answer in the book of James when he discusses what real faith and religion looks like in everyday life:
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Triple ouch! If we are open to listening to other people’s opinions, perspectives, and feelings over our own, it will probably lead to us being less angry.
Anger is a rash, impulsive, and burning feeling. Many times, it flows out of a heart of selfishness. Remember: out of the heart the mouth speaks.
So if we are diligent in caring about other people and respecting them, it might lead us to be more of a peacemaker than a pot-stirrer. As Jesus preached in Matthew chapter five, those who make peace are blessed and called children of God.
We also need to remember that we are not of this world (John 15:19). Our purpose on earth is to love God, love people, and make disciples of all nations, sharing the good news (Matthew 28:19-20). As Paul said to the people of Philippi, our citizenship is in heaven. We owe God our allegiance.
We are a holy priesthood – set apart for a divine task and mission (1 Peter 2:9). A MORE IMPORTANT mission than anything going on in the world right now. People’s souls should be way more significant than winning an argument, debate, or election.
So tearing people apart about politics and the like that will pass away will only create more anger, hate, and perhaps even lead people away from God . . .
I don’t want my actions to be the reason someone doesn’t find peace and eternal life through the blood of Jesus Christ.
If we fight over being politically correct, we are no better than the Pharisees:
“As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.’
‘Teacher,’ said an expert in religious law, ‘you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.’
‘Yes,’ said Jesus, ‘what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’
‘As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world— from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.
‘What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.’
As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke him with many questions. They wanted to trap him into saying something they could use against him.”
In that passage, famously called, “The Seven Woes,” Jesus lays out what’s gone wrong in the hearts of the Pharisees. What it came down to was they cared more for their prestige, wealth, and being right than loving people.
They cared more about being clean physically than spiritually.
This passage should also be a warning to us – that we need to care about the important things.
We need to care about people.
Also, what’s sad is the Pharisees were so personally offended and insulted that not only did they miss out on experiencing the grace and peace that God gives, but they also missed out on Jesus!! They had the opportunity to learn from God himself and instead they couldn’t get past their pride.
Don’t let your pride stand in the way of finding Jesus.
Don’t let your pride stand in the way of others finding Jesus.
There are more important things at stake in the world than being legalistic and politically correct.
How do we do this? By letting the Holy Spirit guide us in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, and gentleness.
Only then will non-believers want what Christians have: Salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, spreading that good news through how we speak and act, not spreading our opinions.
In love and truth,