The world of social media is ablaze with controversy this week. I have friends on every side of the current issue – and I love and appreciate each and every one. I appreciate the many and varied opinions. I try to listen and understand the differing perspectives.
Some are harsh and judgmental. Ok, most are harsh and judgmental. We tend to either be condemning of the individual concerned in the controversy or the people who disagree or denounce that person’s choices.
And, believe it or not, I get it. Both sides have some valid points and, most of the time, neither is very compassionate toward the other or is willing to listen.
There are a couple of questions that keep stirring in my mind. First, why is it considered hateful to disagree with someone’s life choices – particularly if they insist on proclaiming those choices to the world?
Secondly, and probably more important for the people to whom I have the opportunity to speak, why would we expect someone we don’t know to listen to our convictions about their lifestyle?
I’m a pastor. It’s my job to speak into the lives of those I serve and any others that God gives me opportunity to influence. There is a group of folks here that are in a covenant relationship to one another that has called me to serve as their pastor. That gives me the responsibility to speak to them about their lives.
However, even though I have that responsibility, I also have the mandate to love and care for them. I feel compelled to earn their trust before I can speak very pointedly into their lives. I call it “relational equity.” I have to invest in a relationship before I can really speak challenging things into those lives.
I think I know why. I’m convinced that people are much more likely to hear things from someone that they trust and that they are confident truly loves them. Love is like the anesthetic that makes the surgical work of truth possible.
Without this relational equity – without appropriately applying the anesthetic of love – speaking difficult truth is as cruel as surgery without anesthesia.
To those of you who are convinced that you have a responsibility to correct the world with a fiery facebook post, I would urge you to consider the advice of a wise king offered many years ago:
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” Proverbs 20:3
Has anyone ever documented a single occasion of someone changing their lifestyle directions by the influence of a contentious facebook post? Have we made any progress by getting the people that already agree with us to hit the “like” button?
On the other hand, when someone you know and love and that knows you love them is making destructive choices, bear in mind the counsel of the same wise king:
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6
Sure, like everyone else, I have my two cents regarding the hot social issues, but wisdom teaches me to be careful to invest them in a place where there is hope for a healthy return.