We live in a broken world groaning for redemption (Romans 8:22).
Even though this is always true, it is evident some weeks more than others.
Over the last week or so our country has been engaged in nationwide debate, from inside the walls of the Supreme Court to the virtual walls of Facebook users.
The two arenas of discussion, race and sexuality, are obvious tinder for a digital firestorm because of their universal nature. It makes sense that everyone has an opinion even if some of their opinions do not make much sense.
While I was more pleased with the conversations I had in person last week surrounding these issues, I firmly believe in the purpose and value of engaging in these topics on the mediums we have available. Those mediums have changed and will continue to do so over time but right now, the Internet in general and social media in particular have connected the world in unprecedented ways.
Christians who leverage that opportunity and those mediums to discuss current issues through the lens of a Christian worldview can be missionaries like the apostle Paul, who reasoned with people in the marketplace for days upon entrance into a new city.
While there is definitely wisdom in knowing when to speak and when to be silent (See: Just Stop Talking), Christians should not fear engaging others with their various social media platforms as long as they are focused on getting it right more than being right. It’s true, Sometimes You Need a Facebook Timeout but sometimes you need to speak up.
“Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” – Proverbs 31:8
But what about when Christians cause problems by engaging others in conversations about current issues on social media?
The easy answer is something like, “The diversity of the Christians faith points to a diversity of opinions on various current issues.”
But if we’re honest, doesn’t it feel more personal than that?
I wrote about my personal opinions regarding the Confederate Flag last week. The article took off, relatively speaking, as things that are written at the right time around hot button issues do.
I spent most of the next day responding to people’s questions and opinions (both supportive and critical). I didn’t necessarily care much what people felt about my opinions but I did care that people at least listen to the real opinions I gathered from black, Christian friends who are equally proud to be Southerners yet generally had very different experiences than the people I seemed to hear most loudly.
What was most frustrating was not people unwilling to listen to me but people unwilling to listen to them.
Some of these people were not just Christians but Christians in my city, and not just Christians in my city, but Christians at my church.
Most of the conversations went very well, and I was reminded how great the opportunity I have to pastor where I do really is. But some conversations did not go so well…my church might have shrunk last week, and I am okay with that because I honestly believe in what I wrote.
However, like it often does, Saturday night rolled around and my brain switched over to Sunday prep mode. I started running through the morning in my head. Logistics, set list, sermon, volunteers. etc.
One of my favorite parts of Sunday prep is praying for specific people to show up. It gives me chills to see people far from the Church and ever farther from God walk through the doors of our church on a regular basis.
Yet this last week I found myself struggling to want to pray, struggling to want to see some people I sincerely love but who also disagree(d) with me. Honestly, I think I’m right and I think they’re wrong but they feel the same way.
So Sunday morning comes, and I head to church. It would have been an easy weekend for me to miss. I was not scheduled to preach. I could have had a “stomach bug.”
But I went to church anyway. It had nothing to do with my job and everything to do with Jesus.
As I started to pray, even though I didn’t feel like it, a funny thing happened; I started to feel like it. I remembered that, for all the things that can divide us, Jesus is what unites us.
So I went to church. I shook hands and gave hugs and had a tremendous day. I was sincerely glad to see everyone, especially the people who disagreed with me most loudly because I know the list of essentials we must believe to be known and loved by the same God is small:
Jesus came. Jesus died. Jesus rose again.
When I said those words from stage during our welcome time, I meant them with every fiber of my being. That’s what makes us sons and daughters of God. That’s what unites us.
We don’t need to agree on everything. As much as we all wish everyone thought just like us, we actually don’t need to agree on most things but we must agree on the Jesus things.
Everything else is secondary.
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”