For the last few weeks, the pastor at our church (let’s call him M, shall we?) has been talking about topics that “no one wants to touch from the pulpit”. In short, he decided to take each week to speak on hot-button issues – at least the ones plaguing our day. He went from immigration to gun control to homosexuality. It seemed there was no table he left unturned. More powerful than him teaching on these issues was that all he sought to do was omit himself from the equation and simply present what the Bible had to say on each of them. I loved that. We don’t particularly need to hear only His opinion on these things. To be honest, when M made clear his intentions from the outset, my soul greatly applauded! Why? Because in the world we live in, I feel like people are being TOLD what to think, rather than being led to (true) sources and allowed to decide for themselves.
In many instances, pastor M simply had us open up Scripture and we were able to see what it said. He presented us with a bunch of scriptures based on his hardcore research. As a result, in many cases, he was able to show us both (or multiple) sides to any argument. On certain of those issues, the Bible doesn’t mince words. Or better still, God doesn’t mince words. We are able to know His mind when we look throughout the Bible. Then there are other topics where it wasn’t always black and white. Our pastor in those cases would simply present to us how he decided to reconcile the gaps in his mind, but there was an understanding that he was leaving all of us to be taught by God ourselves. I loved the fact that I could leave church every Sunday, and my husband and I would question some things M said and applaud others. Above all, we were able to look into the same Scripture verses and decide together on truth. This only works, of course, if one already has a foundational understanding (and has made the decision) that the Bible is God’s Word.
Annnnyyyway, the thing that really got my attention was how much the pastor had to highlight the fact that, no matter what side each of us lay on the issues, it was vital that we came at each other with civility. From a place of love in our hearts. Each week, at the conclusion of his teaching, M would remind us to engage with others with civility. To me, it was a sad state of affairs that he had to say this at all, and worse, it was extra sad how often he had to bring it up. No, it wasn’t overkill how often he said it, but he mentioned it enough times for an otherwise clueless person to understand that this was important to note. His point? It is good to talk on these issues with other people from a place of love and understanding.
Wow. Feels like the nation has descended into a place where time has been frozen (or reversed), and we’re all acting like toddlers. Because of that, we now have to be spoken to that way. It’s sad to me that friendly exchanges by people on politically opposing sides can no longer be guaranteed. It’s sad to me how easily angered it seems we all get. How touchy, sensitive, and irrational people have become. It’s sad to me that we are now ruled by our emotions rather than our heads. Ideally, we wouldn’t be governed by either but would have a healthy balance with both sides fully operational in each of us. It’s pathetic that we can claim to be a developed country, a learned people, but actually be a nation chock full of people lacking wisdom. Or, often times, even common sense. That part of us that used to know that it is common sense to act in love even when debating another person on an issue. That part of us that knows that it is common sense to talk about the issues without denigrating a person (or his/her character). That part of us deep down that knows that beyond all this, all this, each person is still a human being worthy of respect and dignity.
I have too much to say and too little space for it. Bottom line is this: we’ve got to come up higher. It’s time to start with each of ourselves, as pastor M showed us. We need to stop pointing fingers. So, putting this into practice would mean that I need to look at myself and say: “Ok, that was ridiculous behavior.” Or, “Ok, why in the world did I get so heated over that?” Are we literally in a life and death situation? No. So why is everyone in the country behaving physiologically as though in fight-or-flight status? It’s time for a universal chill pill.
It’s time to come up higher.
Starting with me.
(Will you join me in saying same?)