Over the past several years, I have observed a disturbing trend. It happens in the most conservative circles. It happens in the most liberal circles. It happens everywhere in between. It seems to know no boundaries of politics, race, or religion. It eliminates rational conversation and turns both sides into emotional train wrecks.
Here it is:
We devour those we disagree with. Anyone who holds a differing opinion is fair game for slanderous online comments, for vicious name-calling, and sometimes even physical retribution.
We do it over breast-feeding vs. formula-feeding. We do it over schooling choices for our children. We do it over whether or not we believe in healing and speaking in tongues. We do it over which charities we choose to support or not support. We do it over gay rights vs. religious rights. We do it over racial inequalities. We do it over abortion vs. pro-life.
I am not siding with anyone here. I see this on both sides of social issues.
We convince ourselves that those who hold opposing views must be wrong…so wrong that they must be evil…so evil that they must be devouredby our indignation.
Wait a minute.
Aren’t those who disagree with us made by the same Creator?
Aren’t they human like us?
Aren’t they as susceptible to error as we are?
Is it possible that we could make mistakes?
If we ourselves are prone to make mistakes, shouldn’t we offer a little grace to others?
It all comes down to pride. When we think we are better, more intelligent, more righteous than others, we feel justified in berating those who hold different opinions. We might not even verbalize it. We might sit silently, enjoying our imagined superiority. The problem is that if we constantly compare ourselves to others, we miss where we are wrong.
Jesus mentioned this many times in His earthly ministry. Luke 18:9-14 (NIV) records one of these:
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
We who claim to follow Christ should lead the way. We need to repent of our pride and arrogance. When we are faced with disagreement, we must respond with humility. I am not suggesting that we abandon the truth of God’s Word. I am suggesting that we react with love and kindness as we present His truth.
We cannot expect the world to see Jesus in us if we participate in prideful condemnation of those who disagree with us. They expect us to respond to their hatred with more hatred in return. Devouring our so-called “enemies” is easy. Loving them is not. Let’s surprise them by responding with grace and compassion.
“If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
–2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)