As I was thinking this week about what to write my mind has been filled with the news reports of the protests and rioting happening throughout the country and even close at hand in our home state of Delaware. The genesis of it all may be up for debate, but we must remember above all, there are PEOPLE on both sides of this issue and as I am want to say…Christ loves all of them immensely and intensely. I have been impressed in my spirit by the fact that this is not a racial problem at its core…this is a heart disease that must be cured if we are ever to live in God-intended, Christ-paid-for, love and harmony. As a result, the question most prevalent on my mind has been…What is the proper response? As a Christ follower what do I do? As just one person, what can I do?
Proverbs 18:2 tells me that there are two kind of responses when I am faced with someone I don’t agree with. The one, utilized by foolish people is to “only want to air their own opinions” …the alternative employed by the wise…seek to understand why the other person feels as they do. This does not mean that I must give up my own thoughts on a particular matter, it only means that to speak them in opposition to the other side of a disagreement has no value in terms of bringing us together, but instead simply places me in the former group above. No disagreement has ever been resolved by outsmarting, or out-shouting one’s opponent. In fact, the very word opponent starts the conversation off on the wrong foot. How do we best resolve a disagreement, even one of age-old, mammoth proportion? Come together…and God’s word tells us that is best done by seeking to understand. This same chapter in Proverbs (Sayings of the wise) announces that “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction” (vs. 20). James 1:19-20 (The Remedy) instructs us in how we should respond, “Remember this, my dear Christian family: Seek to understand before seeking to be understood, and don’t be quick to take offence, for a person’s outrage is based on selfishness and does not promote restoration of Christlike character as God desires”.
As I stated above, as Christ followers we must remember there are PEOPLE on both sides of this issue, and Christ loves and died for all of us. He does not love some more than others, He does not love those on one side of this issue over those on the other, and our love is to mirror His love. James goes on to say in chapter three that we cannot praise God with our mouths and curse His creation with the same and call ourselves wise or good. Can blessings and curses come from the same mouth and be right? Of course not. The only loving, restorative action that makes sense in the current climate of our country, or in our families, or marriages, is to seek to understand, so that we can be proponents of harmony and not opponents of peace.
Secondly, as just one person what can I do? Love. Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment”? His response… “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is EQUALLY IMPORTANT: Love your neighbor as yourself”. Every law of God, every instruction to us in His word is based on these two commandments. So what can I do…what should I do…what must I do? Love…Love God and love others, regardless of whether I agree with them or not! The Apostle John tells us we cannot truthfully do one without also equally doing the other. Everything in the headlines right now originated in selfishness and a lack of love on the part of one person, no matter where you mark the beginning of the story. That action had no more influence to divide than a current action of love on my part or yours can have to unite. If selfishness got us here…selflessness can get us back together.
Are there good people, loving people, Christ following people on both sides of this issue…you bet! So…no matter the view you hold, the wise and healing response is to seek to understand the other, and the only way to do that effectively is to do that in genuine Christlike love.
He has shown you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NKJV)