The past month has brought a great deal of controversy to the surface. Not that controversy has been sparse leading up to the most recent Supreme Court decision, but the events of the past several weeks seem to have encapsulated not only the divisiveness in our country but some realizations for me as a Christian. Since more than enough words have been written about the Supreme Court decision, what I hope to share has virtually nothing to do with that specific controversy. Instead, it has to do with the intensity of what the past month has brought to the surface for me as a follower of Christ. Perhaps what it may have brought to the surface for you too.
Share Opinions Less on Social Media
It seems to me that the rise of social media has pushed people from a place of freedom of speech to duty of opinion. In other words, we’ve moved from the privilege of enjoying freedom of speech to being compelled to give our opinion on every matter, sometimes several times a day. The sheer volume of opinions and re-sharing of opinions has led to pain and divisiveness. Just because we have an opinion on a public matter doesn’t mean it’s needful to share it publicly, and it doesn’t mean it builds up the body of Christ, not to mention those who are not yet followers of Jesus.
I speak often with friends and family and close church members about the issues of the day, policies, and politics. But I do it within the context of real life community. That said, I do believe there are especially well-informed believers who are poised and gifted to speak to public issues in a public format, and I’m very grateful for them. While there’s no formal way to know who is called or not called to this kind of public service, I think we would do really well to ask ourselves if we’re one of the called or if we simply feel compelled to be heard for the sake of getting our opinion out there.
The Home Base Is Christ And His Word
Growing up in a Bible church, I remember the distinct sense of having a home base whenever a doctrinal or political issue arose. In other words, if you weren’t sure where to land on a matter, you had your go-to people who would tell you what to think. I could always count on this Bible teacher or that author for the home-team opinion on just about any matter. Social media, among other things, has essentially blown that up. Take the most recent Supreme Court vote, or the last presidential election, or any recent hot topic, and you have all manner of Christ followers—good ones, solid ones—decisively falling on different sides of these issues.
While the once tried-and-true home base felt safe to me, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that in some respects it’s not there anymore. This means I have to dig into the Bible for myself, be more prayerful, and press into my local church with the people in my community. This replaces what used to be a comfortable and even lazy approach of just seeing what so-and-so-amazing-Bible-person thinks, and taking that as my stance. This is not to say I don’t look to trusted believers and leaders who wisely speak about current affairs from a Biblical perspective. I absolutely do. But at some point we have to dig in for ourselves, and never have I felt this more than I do right now.
The Desire For Righteousness Versus My Personal Agenda
As I consider some of the most controversial issues of the past few years, I often get the impression that our personal agendas, political aspirations, and general associations seem to be the driving force rather than a desire for righteousness. Regardless of what “side” a person is on, I’ve noticed the tendency to place ambitions and desires against what matters to the heart of Christ so as not to let what matters to Him “get in the way”. More subtly, I’ve seen the temptation to corral the truth down certain paths for personal desired outcomes. All of this is problematic in many ways, not the least of which is using the truth for our own gain. Or caring more about our gain even if our agendas and the truth happen to agree. Do you see how pride and selfishness can still be at the root?
I wonder how we as the Body of Christ might be able to promote peace and unity by caring more about loving others than our personal agendas, and remaining silent when adding another opinion to the pile only deepens the divide. I wonder what would happen if we cared more about righteousness than ambition, trusted Jesus, His Word, and our local church as our ultimate home base instead of that one person in our “tribe”, and spoke (tweeted, posted, blogged) more sparingly about controversial issues and more liberally about uplifting truths. Maybe we would find something a little more like unity, and the world might just know us by our love.
Want to see more from Kelly? Check out her other LifeWay Voices posts: