I have a three year old who is always… well, always acting like a three year old. When I get onto her and scold her you would think I tore her fingernails out and dipped her bleeding digits in lemon juice. That’s the reaction anyway. She starts squalling like the world is over. Why? Well, if you ask her she’s quick to reply in a tear-ridden voice interspersed with hiccups, “you hurt my feelings Momma!”
And maybe sometimes I do yell a little too loud. Just maybe I do. But usually not. It’s just her reaction to opposition and correction, especially from someone she loves. She likes it best when Mommy is proud, claps her hands, and says, “good job baby.” And who doesn’t want that?
As we get older we grow up. We learn right from wrong, and yes, we often learn it at the stern voice of those we love. We develop a little bit thicker of a skin and manage not to fall apart into tears at correction, opposition, disagreement, or harsh words. But not completely.
What I mean is there’s always that little person inside of us who flinches when voices are raised, who feels a clinching in the pit of their stomach when corrected, or who cries when someone says something that hurts us emotionally. Although we usually do this in private and never actually say, “but you hurt my feelings,” in a hitching, tear-struck vibrato.
Still some of us don’t cry about it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. Sometimes when I hurt my daughter with my words she crosses her arms over her chest, scowls at me, and stomps away to stew. Sometimes, before she does, she says something like, “I don’t like you anymore. You’re mean!” And I guess we do that too, don’t we?
Whether you cry, or whether you get mad, or even whether you lash out and fight back; the fact is that you’re affected by the words of another. Especially if it’s someone you care about. Words have more power than we can imagine. They’re stronger than steel, cut deeper than a diamond drill bit, and can tear something down quicker than a demolition crew. Words can be like a tsunami, ripping relationships apart.
I see this ever prevalent in the world around me. People shoot words like arrows, so quickly do they fly from their lips, and so powerfully does the tip rip through the flesh of its victim.
This happens in every facet of human relationships from that of a family member to the misplaced words from a stranger. It’s inevitable it seems for we’re all quick to react, to speak fast and freely, with little regard for the impact of our words until after they’ve left the gate. None of us are good at this. Not a one. But there seems to be an area where words are lobbed carelessly than really bothers me. It bothers me because it’s not simply hurt feelings at stake. It’s so much more.
There seems to frequently be debate and disagreement where the church is concerned. This isn’t something new. The scriptures of the Bible and the interpretations of its contents have been around far longer than myself. What has changed is technology, social networking, and the quick and convenient ability to throw your opinions and words around, often times maliciously, with very little thought or consideration into the damage your arrow might cause.
Before you get too offended, just hold on a minute and hear me out. I’m not saying everyone does this, but far too many do, and perhaps we all should keep this in mind. I think opinions are great. I think personal beliefs are wonderful. I think standing firm in your beliefs is fabulous. I have my own. I stand firm in them and love to share them as I’m sure most of you know.
Standing up for your beliefs is good and it’s important to the faith of Christianity. I think it’s monumental in fact. It’s commanded in the Bible to stand by the truth. So I’m all in favor of that. Where I wince is when I am witness to hatred and cruel words spoken right along with the truths of my Christian faith. It just doesn’t seem to gel for me. How can you stand in support of a religion based on love, the ultimate love of Jesus dying for our sins, and yet not act in a manner of love? Perhaps we forget that Jesus also died for the same people we are in disagreement with. Because He did you know.
I see division. I see name calling. I see verbal, far too strongly worded fights over things that shouldn’t produce such a violent fall-out. For example, the debate over the movie Noah. I see that Christians shouldn’t go see a movie that doesn’t mention God and is directed by an atheist. Just a thought, regardless or whether you go or not, I wonder what would happen if we addressed him as our brother instead of the title of atheist?
I see disagreement over World Vision and their recent policy changes. Then I see the aftermath. I see the reaction to this decision. And reactions are fine. I disagree with WV personally. But I also disagree with some of my fellow Christian’s quick and vehement reaction to this decision. Isn’t there a way to stand up for your strong beliefs but respond in a loving manner to those who you disagree with?
Isn’t there a way to disagree with an atheist without screaming at him, “you’re going to burn in hell for all eternity.” I’m not saying you can’t believe that. You certainly can. But do you think you will convince him on the benefits of joining the Christian faith by hurling hot comments with an air of judgement?
People were drawn to Jesus because He loved them. Despite what they did, what they said, or what they believed He responded to them in love. This is not easy. It was for Jesus, but not so much for us.
When we are confronted with opposition, disagreement, arguments, and harsh words we often respond like we’re three years old again. Pouting, crying, getting angry, and saying things we don’t mean. My question is “what good does this do? What benefit does this create for the Kingdom?”
When you become angry, hurt, offended, or face opposition to something that is so very important to you it is second nature to respond quickly. To shoot your arrow. May I suggest not doing that?
Might I suggest you take pause? Weigh your words and ask yourself “will my words build-up or will they tear down?” Will your words actually build up the Kingdom and the Christian faith or will they tear it down? Will your misplaced, hurtful, and not thought through words chip away at the good reputation of the Christian family name that Christ built so long ago based on unconditional love and sacrifice?
I am not saying to stand silent. No. I’m not saying you can’t speak up for what you believe. I want you to do that. I think it’s important. I think our strength in our faith is paramount. I am asking that you weigh your actions and words. Before you let them fly I ask that you consider if your motive is one of building up God’s Kingdom. You can certainly speak against opposition with a spirit of love.
Sharing your opinion, your convictions, and your strong feelings of faith is excellent. Just speak it in love.
If your words are dividing members of the Christian faith then think of additional words you can speak to mend those relationships. You can disagree, stand by your beliefs, speak truth, and still speak in love and maintain decency.
If these same people continue to damage your foundational truths despite your attitude of love then yes, wash your hands of it and be done. Sometimes you must simply give it to God, move on, and then pray for them. But may I suggest your first reaction be one of love before you start throwing tables in the temple?
I haven’t got this all figured out. I’m still working on it. I know I fall short, and I know I fail miserably at times. But I desire to try. I desire change. For me. For you. For us all, as a family.
It comes down to agreeing that you want to build the Kingdom of God not be a part of the demolition crew. If we can’t get along with some bit of decency among fellow believers then what reputation do you think that builds with non-believers? They’re probably not going to be jumping at the chance to join our family. And if we treat these same non-believers with disdain then we tear down any chance of welcoming them home.
Just a thought. Do with it what you will. But maybe thinking of the motivation behind the words you throw would benefit us all. Perhaps we could build the Kingdom up instead of tearing it down brick by single brick.