You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other! (Galatians 5:13-15, Common English Bible)
I haven’t posted on here in quite a while. I really need to get better about that. I will try. This post came about because of thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for a couple of days. Hope you enjoy. Feel free to leave your comments.
several years things seem to have changed in our society. We just don’t seem to treat each other with the kind of love and dignity and respect I seem to remember from when I was a child. Our society has gotten mean. I wish I could say it just rested in our polarized and partisan politics but nothing could be further from the truth.
I think there may be a couple of things at work. I first started noticing this shift in the days following 9/11. Perhaps part of it is rooted in a fear that we no longer feel safe in our communities. But I think there is more to it than that. It seems to me that this shift also parallels the rise in those of our population who participate in social media. While it is not an anonymous platform, it has become a place where it is easy to attack others, particularly those we do not know and/or who share different ideas from our own.
Because this rise in viciousness has continued to escalate since the last presidential election, we have seen more than the usual mudslinging. The gloves came off early and every candidate has seen the level of hateful rhetoric increase exponentially and they have not been immune from dishing out their fair share and more. And, I wish I could write here that it was just the candidates who were spewing so much hate, but it is not. The level of distrust, the level of animosity seems to come from the citizen as well as the candidate.
I wish I were writing this to beg non-Christians to stop because it was a behavior that, by-in-large was an activity in which Christians were not participating. But to think as such, would be wrong in more ways than I would care to count.
To some degree this is to be expected from non-Christians. I am not trying to say Christians are better than non-Christians or should be better than non-Christians. My point with that statement is simply to say, we shouldn’t expect non-Christians to behave as though they are Christian. How can we expect Christian behavior from people who do not know Christian behavior and have little interest in such?
It seems to me, we as Christians should know better. We are supposed to be people who know and live in the behavior of love. Yet what I see from many cannot be classified as love to anyone’s way of thinking. Paul’s words above serve as a warning to us. “But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!“
As I have stewed over this the past couple of days, the meme above floated across my Facebook feed. It gave me an idea. In truth, while I love what the meme says, I really do not expect any politician to cease tearing down their opponents. I actually think that is part of our problem. We used to elect statesmen. Today we elect politicians. It has been a long time since we had a real statesman in the White House. But, I digress.
As I was thinking, the idea ran through my mind, “I can’t stop the politicians from bashing each other, but I can stop bashing them.” I know I am far from perfect and I feel pretty certain that between now and November 8th I will say something negative about some candidate for some office, but I at least want to try.
Because I am a pastor I really try to refrain from talking much about politics, particularly around my church members. Again, I’m not always successful, but I do try. What I want to try even harder to do is, if I speak at all, to speak only positively about the candidates I support. When I talk politics, I want to talk about why my particular candidate should be elected, not why the candidate I oppose should not be.
The truth is, right now, in at least some of the elections I will vote in this November, I haven’t made up my mind. The current political rhetoric out of both politicians and the public I do not find helpful. Tell me what you are going to do, what your candidate is going to do, why that person should be elected and allow me to make up my mind. I will not make up my mind by only hearing why someone in the opposition should not be elected.
As both a citizen and child of God, I pledge to work hard to be positive in the days ahead. Perhaps if we all were to work on that, we might see a change for the better in the society in which we live. I believe as people of faith the Scriptures seem pretty clear. We are to act in love and back-biting is the polar opposite of that. Not only that, if we were to all start focusing on the positive not only would our society seem better, I think we all might be a little more happy in life regardless of who wins any of the upcoming elections.
That is what I think and that is my pledge. With God’s help I believe I can follow through with that. Will you join me?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved