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“Thems Fightin’ Words!”

 Surf the web at your own risk these days. Save for a few adorable videos of dogs and ducks becoming best friends or fluffy kittens playing with turtles, everything else seems to be about the sharp divides in the realm of politics, society and religion.  In all my years on this planet I can’t recall a time where our society was more divided …or fraught with more people actively being divisive.

We can’t safely have philosophical differences and privately stand for or against a different ideology anymore. We have to choose a side and actively join the fight to either dominate or be dominated by those we disagree with. 

People I know, love and respect post or repost articles and opinions about politics, society or religious matters on social media that I sometimes find either ridiculous or offensive. But that’s okay! It’s a free country (for the moment) and I’m a mature enough adult to not expect the world to be scrubbed clean and customized to suit my preferences and sensibilities.

What troubles me is that more and more often these media “shares” seem to be offensive …intentionally.

The end game, it seems, is to first paint the "other" point of view as morally reprehensible or evil, then follow it up with heaping helpings of guilt and shame for anyone who subscribes to said point of view. Think guns, gender issues and social justice. People don’t just disagree on these issues they draw a line in the sand and declare that those who disagree are soulless monsters out to destroy our society.

When did we become so self-important that we actually believe that only those who agree with us can be our moral or social equal?

I’ve been around for more than 50 years. There have always been competing views in politics, society and religion.

It seems to me that we used to agree or disagree with little judgment about the other person’s intelligence or eternal destination. Not these days! Wow! If you disagree with one group; not only is it because you are poorly informed and woefully stupid it’s also because you’re morally bankrupt and personally responsible for all social injustice…AND you’re probably going to hell.

It’s no accident that there is so much division in America.

The narrative is controlled and the hostility cultivated by those who profit from the discord most; politicians and the media…and that includes ALL media from the New York Times to the talk show hosts to popular online bloggers.

Keeping us at war with one another is the most effective way to parlay social injustice and religious fear into market share and political power.

Pitting conservatives against liberals and Christians against non-Christians keeps the pot stirring and perpetuates the thinking that if we could just MAKE “them” see that “we” are right, everything wrong in our society would turn right and there’d be peace and prosperity for all.

One of my favorite bloggers is a Christian and v.e.r.y. liberal. I used to find a lot of his posts inspiring and worth sharing. Others left me shaking my head and skipping the share button completely. Not because I disagree but because they are too intentionally inflammatory and divisive. He makes no bones about disparaging the Conservative point of view and goes so far as to question the sincerity and salvation of those Christians who don’t share his social/political perspectives.

If you read the comments that follow one of his more challenging posts you’ll find a whole lot of hostile Conservative Christians lining up to rip his head off and questioning HIS sincerity and salvation. 

Sure we disagree! But why are we so hostile toward one another?

Not only do we have Christians and non-Christians making hateful diatribes against each other but we have Christians insulting and disparaging other Christians just for disagreeing with their view! They each arrogantly proclaim that if you disagree with them, you must not understand “right doctrine” or perhaps you’re not really saved.

Hogwash!

I have my views on social situations. There are a few things I know of first hand and a whole lot more that I can only opine based on the stories and facts I hear and read about.

I’ve studied the Bible from one end to the other and have walked with Jesus for many, many years. I feel pretty comfortable in my knowledge and theology but I would never argue that my understanding or interpretations are perfect or should be considered more valid than someone else’s.

Yes, we have a lot of important issues to sort out in America. Yes, it’s important that we stand up for what we believe to be true.

Social activism is the lifeblood to the American Way.

It’s essential for We the People to fight for something better but let's do it without shredding everyone who gets in our way. We won’t lose just because we behave reasonably and magnanimously in offering our point of view.

When Christians act ugly in public they do so before an audience that blames religion, or worse, God for our ugly behavior.

We have thousands of Christians who are leaving our ranks every day because they don’t want to be associated with us anymore.

To be honest, I’ve thought of running away too. But I believe I’m called to stay and fight for the health and reputation of The Church.

I don’t want to make us more conservative and I don’t want to make us more liberal.

I want us to be more like Jesus.

I want us to be more humble.

I want us to be more loving.

I want us to reach out to the world that Jesus died for and speak life to our brothers and sisters…whether they believe our same doctrines or share our political point of view.

We aren’t furthering the Gospel with all our arguing.  

We aren’t serving God by being superior and hateful toward those who don’t agree with us.

It’s time to accept the fact that some sincere Christians are socially/politically conservative AND some sincere Christians are socially/politically liberal.

More importantly, it’s time to accept the fact that those who disagree with us aren’t always wrong!

We are not perfect.

Our views are not flawless.

Our politics are not automatically aligned with the will of God simply because we identify ourselves as Christians.

We are not morally superior simply because we believe in Jesus and go to church. We should be…but we most certainly are not.

The Bible says

"Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven..…" Mathew 5:16

Let your light SHINE before men. Don’t use it to light them up and burn them.

Your life is supposed to be a living billboard that displays the Grace of God, the Love of His Son and the transforming power of His Holy Spirit.

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:17

Use wisdom.

There is no trophy for being right.

You don’t score points with God for humiliating those who disagree with you.

If you walk away feeling like you just “schooled a fool” there is a very good chance you blew it.

We don’t win hearts with our opinions or convictions.

We all have opinions and our convictions are merely the opinions we’ve committed to.

We open minds and win hearts with God’s love. And make no mistake, YOU don’t get to define that love as “telling someone the truth about their sins so they won’t go to hell”. That’s not how Jesus did it and it’s certainly not how He taught you to do it.

Remember what love is and what love is not. 

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal". 1Corinthians 13

In His love and service,

Sharon Bollum

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Sharon Bollum
Raised by parents who were atheists, called by God at a very young age, Sharon Bollum has a unique relationship with The Church. After serving 15 years in ministry she came to believe that The Church at large had lost its direction and its influence; not only in the world but in the lives of its members as well. “We should be known as the most humble, loving, honest, forgiving and generous people on earth. Sadly we’re more often perceived as the most judgmental, hypocritical, hateful and self-serving group of all. This is a condition we all need to take seriously. Seeking answers, Sharon set out to study the patterns and practices that have led to the poor reputation of the Christian Community in the United States. Believing that our reputation has become the greatest obstacle to evangelism, she endeavors to start a national movement that will lead to change. Sharon is currently producing the documentary, 40 Churches in 40 Weeks TM and writing a book about what she discovered through interviewing hundreds of church leaders and members all across the United States.

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