I grew up in a family with three boys. I am the middle child. Most middle children are peacemakers. I am not. Those of you who know me are shocked I’m sure! Something I remember clearly from childhood are the fights with my brothers. Sometimes they were physical. You know how that would work right? My older brother would beat me up and not being able to retaliate effectively, I would beat up my younger brother.
Sometimes the fighting was with words. We were creative users of the English language my brothers and I. We could sling mud and insult one another as if we were a Hollywood portrayal of 17th century parliament. When we really got going, we often stopped thinking about the language we were using and THAT would get Mom’s attention. And not in a good way.
When we used language we weren’t supposed to use, we were given the opportunity to clean our mouths – with soap. Hard, white soap doesn’t taste good. I don’t know about the soft soaps that smell nice from Bath & Body…
Over the last two days I have been dismayed by the Christian community’s use of language.
I have read words from Christian leaders, many of whom I really admire, using hateful, warlike language to describe those politicians they dislike. I have read words describing our leaders (democrats, republicans, the president, etc.) as terrorists, bullies, the enemy, the antichrist, thieves, hostage-takers, and the list goes on.
Jesus is really clear.
Jesus didn’t beat around the bush about how we are supposed to talk to and about one another. In fact, in Matthew 5:21-22 he says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother is subject to judgment. Again, anyon who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ (an Aramaic term of contempt) is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
When I choose to stay in my anger and to villainize another person, it is impossible to have meaningful dialogue. When politicians villainize one another, it is impossible for them to have helpful dialogue enabling them to lead our nation. When the Church villainizes others, it is impossible for us to be on mission with God.
Let me say that again, maybe a little differently. When we, the Church, villainize others and use combative language, we are not advancing the Kingdom, the Shalom, of God. Jesus is really clear about that.
Church, what if we walked humbly, lived missionally, loved profusely and prayed deeply? Would we reflect more the image of Christ and his love for this world?
Lead like Christ.
Now is an opportunity like no other for the Church – to lead and live in the way of Jesus. Be prophetic filled with love. Speak authentically words seasoned by grace. Live courageously like Jesus joy-filled lives designed for integrity. Through the power and presence of the Spirit, be different. Lord, during these times of distrust and deep division, may we, your body & bride, be experienced differently by the world and may they see hope.
I love being right. More than being right, however, I want to live with integrity and love. I want to live into the design God created me for and to lovingly see the Kingdom of God reign in my world. So, as much as I want to be right, I’m not going to call you names when you disagree with me. That way we can talk about it.