In case you’ve been living under a rock recently, there has been an awful lot of division in our country lately. There are some white people who can’t stand some, or all, black people. There are some black people who can’t stand some, or all, white people. There are some white people who can’t stand white people. There are sects of both who have it out for latinos. Muslims? They have their haters, too.
I don’t know of anything that can be done that will cure this division overnight. I suspect there will always be some form of racism, unfortunately. I do, however, think there is something that Christians can do to help the healing. To some, it might seem a little behind the times, a little outdated, but I have a good feeling about it if everyone genuinely puts forth the effort to enact it. Here we go. Follow me here…..
It’s the Golden Rule. Matthew 7:12, where Jesus says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We’re all quick to bust this verse out if someone is unkind to us, or if someone is unkind to our friend or family, but we seem to forget it when it pertains to us in our actions with others.
We can also focus on another verse on the same frequency, which really requires us to take a step back in situations and think before we engage with someone, especially someone in a tense situation. I’m talking about the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46 which is summed up with, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Let’s think about that for a second. When we engage with people who get on our nerves, or do or say things that we don’t like, or maybe they’re just different from us, and we don’t like it, we tend to want to say or do things to hurt them. Maybe make a snarky comment to make them angry. Maybe make a comment to provoke someone into an argument. What does this accomplish? What positive will come out of this intent to harm?
I am not saying this will solve all angry situations, but there are many things we do and say that are mean and hurtful and aren’t necessary, and don’t help find a solution. Even someone initiating with a negative comment doesn’t have to be met with another negative response.
Let’s look at the people we are at odds with in a different light. What if, instead of seeing that white person we can’t stand, or that black person we don’t like, or that Muslim we are prejudice against…we see Jesus?
Christ is in all of us. Some people don’t know this. Some don’t believe this and therefore won’t allow Him to shine through. Some don’t want to let Him shine through because they are caught up in the ways of the world, but He is in all of us.
Instead of looking for a way to one-up our counterpart, let’s try to look for Christ in everybody. Yes, even if they’re not being Christlike. We can eliminate a lot of the vitriol in everyday disagreements by treating the other person as if they were Jesus. We would not speak to Christ in any other way but with love. We must do the same with those we are disagreeing with.
Some will say that Christ argued, and I will agree. Scripture is full of examples of Christ sparring with the Pharisees in a war of words. He always spoke with wisdom, though, instead of put-downs. There is a way to have a disagreement without resorting to hurtful one-liners with the intent to harm. There was always substance to what he said.
This will not be easy. Emotions are at a high these days, and we can easily be snared into a negative interaction. Let’s try to hit the brakes before it gets out of hand. Remind your counterpart that you’re not out to get in ugly argument to try and simply hurt them. Voice your opinion in a polite way. Tell your counterpart that you care for them, our country, and this world. Tell them you understand their point of view, and if you disagree, it’s ok to leave the conversation at that: a disagreement. We don’t always have to win the talk, and I think that’s the hard part for us. We think it’s our duty to win our counterpart over to our point of view, or go down in a verbal blaze of glory. It doesn’t have to end that way, though. One can just end the conversation by saying “Hey, I respect your opinion, but we disagree. I don’t want this to get ugly, so perhaps we should end it here. No matter what, I still love you.”
Is this a perfect fix for every conversation? I don’t know about that. But I imagine ending a conversation like this, or in a similar way, will leave both still respecting each other instead of trying to figure out how they can get back at the other the next time they interact.
Be Christlike. It won’t be easy, but when did Christ ever say it would be easy?
By Joe Klaas
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