As I write this, 2016 is coming to a close and our nation seems to be getting more divided by the day. So many people are angry about so many things. So many people are looking for someone or something to blame for the things that they are angry about. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the evangelical church has been one of the targets of that anger.
Whether or not the evangelical church actually is to blame for the situations in which we find ourselves, as 2017 rolls in, is not the point (at least not for this particular blog). The point is that there are many people who are angry and we as the church have become the recipient of that anger. The point is not about whether we are to blame but rather about how we will respond.
Allow me to present one unfaithful way to respond and two faithful ways to respond.
- All too many Christians have responded by taking up arms against their accusers, especially via social media. We lash out by poking fun at “the opposition,” by overemphasizing their faults, or by attributing the worst of motives to them. To some degree this is natural: when we feel attacked, we respond defensively. But this natural response, in all too many cases, is a rather poor representation of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
- A common prayer in my life has been this, “Lord, Your Word tells me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Help me to be that today, because… I am slow to listen, quick to speak, and quicker to become angry.” These commands are given to us in James 1:19. The following verse warns us that “man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” If we want to honor God, we need to be quicker to listen to those who are blaming us, slower to respond, and even slower to become angry. Not only will we honor God in doing so, but there is also a much better chance of being heard when we do respond.
- I have been haunted lately by Paul’s statement to the Corinthian church: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I am haunted by this statement because I seem to have an infinite gift for getting distracted by a myriad of topics other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, including the topics of politics and current events and so much more. Are we (am I?) getting so caught up in the tensions and controversies of our day that we have lost sight of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we trying so hard to win elections and opinion wars and justify ourselves that we have no relational capital left with which to share the good news of Christ? I submit that, if we are not already there, we are dangerously close to slipping over that edge.
Whoever you are, teacher, parent, student, will you consider the following prayer as a resolution for 2017?
“Lord, please make me quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, while choosing to prioritize the gospel in my conversation with others. Please help me to care more about the gospel and the lost than about winning arguments. Amen.”
Questions or Comments? Email Youth Pastor Leo Barnes.