One of the tragedies of modern Western culture is the idea that if I do not agree with something you believe or do then I hate you. Extremism of every type seems to grab today’s headlines and drive the narrative of our public discourse. Seemingly one cannot have an opinion and not be against the very personhood of someone else. Gone are the days of “agreeing to disagree” or being friends with those whom you disagree. We have made it near impossible for two people to have a civil relationship and disagree on matters of importance.
There are two primary drivers in this current lack of civility:
On one hand there is the simple fact that no one wants to consider his or herself a sinner. Mankind has always, since the creation, wanted to be his own God and determine for himself matters of moral significance. So if someone dares to challenge the moral choices of another he or she has challenged the “inherent right of self-determination.” In today’s cultural climate, such challenges are considered a high crime against humanity for it strikes at the center of mankind’s desire to be his own god.
On the other hand there is the advantage of the demonizing anyone who opposes your worldview. If someone of a competing viewpoint can be sufficiently demonized, public opinion might be sufficiently driven against them. This of course offers the potential impact of shifting the moral strata of the culture in one’s favor. Eventually the “hater” is seen as the real problem rather than any argument he or she might make.
So how can we love those who reject our Christian worldview and in the process bring some sense of civility back into the public square?
- Pray — Pray for those who hate you. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for the salvation of those who do not know Christ. Pray for the hearts and mind of those who reject God’s definition of morality to be changed.
- Keep Cool — Those who reject Christ are not rejecting you but rather Christ in you. What an honor to be considered worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus. What an honor to be so closely identified with Jesus that those who hate Him, hate you! Don’t be angry and allow your temper to get the best of you. Never feel you must defend the honor of God or protect His name. Just love those who oppose you by not responding to their anger in like fashion.
- Keep Sharing — Never give up sharing the hope of the Gospel of Christ with those who need Him. Never grow discouraged by the repeated rejection of those who need Jesus. Never ever give up!
- Don’t be One Dimensional — Not every conversation needs to be about faith or the particular issue of disagreement. I have had friends who are atheists or gay and our friendships flourish because we find a lot of common interests outside of the realm of politics and religion. Investing in the friendship only increases the potential for significant and civil talks on subjects of disagreement and in the process you might make a great friend.
- Never Give In — Never acquiesce to the sin of your friends. Never offer the possibility that their sin is ok or that they might make it to Heaven and experience relationship with God without repentance and faith in Jesus. Never allow the relationship to cloud truth.
- Love — Just love them. Love those who are different than yourself. Love those who hate you. Love those who persecute you. Love those who reject our Christ and refuse to believe in our God. Love those who make poor moral choices. Love, love, love. Never give up and never stop finding ways to love.
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