Peace, brothers and sisters in Christ, peace.
Lately, I’ve encountered a disturbing amount of Christians bickering amongst ourselves, sometimes with the eyes of a lost world literally watching, and likely thinking if our unkind, unloving, disrespectful attitudes in the moment represent what Christ is about, no thanks. They can get plenty of that without the Lord. Meanwhile, often, everyone involved in the fussing is sure they’re right and the other person is wrong, no one is respectfully listening and respectfully responding to each other, and everyone feels justified in their bad behavior by the other side’s bad behavior, and this ugly cycle just goes on and on. Let’s break the cycle, be respectful to the disrespectful, kind to the unkind, loving to the unloving. It begins with us.
We have to set boundaries sometimes of course. Even when that is the case, if we want anything to change, we need to all examine our own conduct, restrain ourselves from reacting automatically, pray for God’s help, and choose to respond in a manner that represents Christ well. I know such discipline is hard for some of us, and learning it may take time, but we have to keep practicing making the choice to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit on such matters. It is too easy to behave disrespectfully, hatefully, etc. when we feel we or someone or something dear to us is being disrespected, hated, etc.. That’s simply the nature of the flesh we all struggle with.
It’s long been a battle in my own life for sure, but lately, I have observed so much of Christians falling prey to the flesh in this regard, I’ve begun to strongly suspect that none of us are immune. If we want things to change, we need to face that if we’re not watching ourselves, any of us can get sucked in and become one of those people. Yes, even when we deeply love the Lord, care deeply about the lost and demonstrating who God is to them. Even someone who is normally one of the loveliest, sweetest souls on Earth can potentially get conned by “righteous” anger into becoming part of the problem. So I ask us all to watch ourselves, to humbly face the potential within ourselves to become a part of the problem, in hopes one of us will catch ourselves about to act like that and check ourselves first.
Again, becoming “one of them” takes only one moment of “righteous” anger where we’re sure we’re right, that the other side is ignorant, wrong, and a threat to people or causes we love dearly. One moment of feeling disrespected and hated and in pain is all it takes to surrender to the flesh, snapping back in kind without thinking or praying through our hurt and asking God to help us respond in a way that will glorify his name. While it is fine to give respectful, loving responses and to set boundaries in a respectful, loving manner, outside of that, keeping it going isn’t much better than causing it when these things quickly come to both sides thinking the other side started it.
So again, let’s all work together to break this ugly cycle. Let’s stop before we react automatically by mirroring either real or anticipated bad behavior. Let’s instead give our angry feelings to God and ask God to give us the strength to respect those who are disrespectful, to be kind and loving to those who are unkind and hateful. It begins with us.