I’m thinking about a great conversation I had this week. I was asked how we manage to be honest, offer true opinions, give grace and love people well in the midst of our polarized world? Are these not the most polarized of times? If you’re a democrat, you’re considered by the right to be blindly liberal, without any restraint. And if you’re a republican, you’re thought to be narrow minded, hypocritical and angry. Actually, both sides seem angry. Voting preference was a 3rd rail subject in our parents’ day, not considered polite at a dinner party; it is actually a mild topic now. We rage on social media; we’re either for same-sex marriage or against, pro-life or pro-choice, easing restrictions on immigration or fighting for deportation, for Israel or against, concealing weapons or screaming for gun control.
In the wake of the shooting at Umpqua Community College, I was disgusted and saddened as both sides immediately take to the airwaves, promoting or defending their positions. We’ve lost our sensitivity and our value of life is slipping. A professor and 9 kids woke up on October 1st, and they never came home. Why can’t we just mourn together for a couple of days? Even if the pundits got what they wanted, would the issues be resolved? We can’t help ourselves, racing to argue for our rights, even before the relatives of the victims are notified.
We either romp across social media like a bull in a china store or tiptoe through, hoping not to be branded on any given topic. So, back to the question, how do we share our opinions with friends and acquaintances, in a way that is honest, but kind?
How would JESUS have spoken into our conversations, in these times? Brilliantly, I think. The Eternal One became flesh, entering our world. John 1 indicates HE came full of grace, and full of truth. Have you ever been in a tense discussion over a sensitive topic, with someone who has very personal struggle with the issue? Grace and truth are required. Not some grace or all grace and not some truth or all truth; in those moments we need JESUS’ portions of grace & truth.
So, how do we love and live with others, full of grace and truth like CHRIST? Be encouraged brother and sister, the Word tells us CHRIST is being fully formed in us & that GOD will continue the good work HE began. HE is at work. Our part is to get to know more of CHRIST through HIS Word, seeing how HE loved people.
JESUS lived, breathed, loved, laughed, smiled, sat quietly, thought, was frustrated…and knew everything. Reading Gospel accounts, I understand JESUS had purpose when HE went out of HIS way for a widow who lost her only son at Nain, a forgotten woman at a well, and to dinner with tax collectors. I notice JESUS was very forthright with the rich, young ruler, but HE felt compassion for him when he walked away broken. JESUS handles each person and circumstance perfectly; full of grace and full of truth.
I need to spend time in HIS stories. Through them, HE teaches me to value everyone, to be honest and gracious. When I’m not sure, I need to take HIM at HIS Word, and believe HE is with me, in all of my difficult discussions, even in our polarized times. Ask JESUS, for HIS help, HIS guidance and wisdom.
And let’s not forget HE loved and lived. GOD intends for us to enjoy our friends. Let’s give grace, ask permission to share our opinions, but respect opposing views. We need to trust The HOLY SPIRIT to convict, because HE’s better there than us.
On my best days, I ask JESUS to fill me with all the grace and truth I need for the people I’m with. Almost always, they’re people I love to be with. When I leave, I want them to be encouraged and touched by HIM.
“HE must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30 NLT)