As this coronavirus thing wears on with all of its social distancing and all-too-real statistics, I continue to see people posting things on social media attacking those who do things differently, with absolute confidence that “those people” are wrong enough to be personally insulted. And I see a whole lot of it coming from Christians, who even justify the name-calling as a part of “speaking the truth,” forgetting that we’re supposed to speak the truth in love… The lack of basic respect for fellow human beings, let alone brothers and sisters in Christ, is frankly appalling.
I know full well that people are going to continue to have and voice opinions, and I also fully believe that having an opinion and speaking up against a perceived wrong continue to be invaluable freedoms and responsibilities we carry as human beings.
What bothers me is seeing so many people I love and respect forgetting who they are called to be as sons and daughters of the living God. I fully expect those who do not know Jesus to use this crisis and the next as proof that their political ideas are the only correct ones, and to be convinced that everyone who thinks differently than them are idiots, haters, monsters and villains, and feel compelled to say so publicly. But for those of us who believe that there is more to this life than suffering, sickness and death, to fall so easily into the trap of hating those we disagree with is truly shameful.
Now, before you tune me out, please know that I am not “holier than thou.” I am not above my own admonitions, either. I have called the President and the Governor names in my mind and in conversations. I have been angry with my friends who post things I disagree with, and I have talked badly to others about people I don’t particularly like. This is why we all need to be reminded that we need to be better – and that we can be better, with God’s help. This is also why I am thankful for the cross and the empty tomb, because I am forgiven and can start again.
And the same is true for you. God loves you, and He wants better for you. Trust in Him, and love as you have been loved; show grace where you have been shown grace. There will be always be people you disagree with – and that’s a good thing, because if we all thought the same way, this would be a really boring place. But we are all imperfect human beings who may be wrong, no matter how convinced we are of our rightness – and even if we are right, it does no good whatsoever to bludgeon someone else with the truth. Why would anyone care about what you have to say if you so obviously do not care about them?
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9-21).”
Don’t give in to fear, and don’t fall for hate. Speak up against injustice, but do it without personal attacks. Stand up for the truth, but do it humbly, knowing there’s a chance you may not be as right as you think you are. Trust in God, and work hard to love your neighbor enough to see through her or his eyes. You don’t have to agree, but you also don’t have to hate.
Today, turn your mind to better things, and let your heart follow suit. May we all have more grace for each other, especially in these difficult times.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).”