Controversy. Taboo subjects. Tolerance or lack of it. A new outrage appears in every news cycle. Social media explodes with opinions and fires rage across the news feed. How are we as Christians to react?
The shooting in a gay nightclub polarized the country. It spread across the news and internet. Words flew like bullets. Lines were drawn in the sand as people dared others to cross. Opportunists saw a new tool in pushing their agenda.
A coworker told me about a line that his friend had drawn in the sand. They posted, “If you think homosexuality is an abomination to God then unfriend me.” He quoted the verse to her. When he asked me my thoughts, I told him that he lacked tact.
Let’s examine this.
49 people died. 53 were wounded in that club. Every single one of them mattered to God. They mattered to their families. Anyone that appreciates the sanctity of life was affected. They reacted.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there are times to mourn. It was one of those times. Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there are times to speak, and times to be quiet. It was time for the latter.
Be Careful How You Respond
The reasoning behind it is in the workings of the brain. Rationality checks out when emotions ramp up. Have you ever thoughtfully considered your words when you were angry? How many times have you said something you regret? Why?
Directly challenging someone in that state doesn’t win arguments or souls. It’s not even Christ-like. He mourns, moved by people’s pain. A majority of the time he was helping and healing the crowds before he even preached. He addressed their needs. Their humanity.
His harshest words were aimed at the self-righteous Pharisees. This isn’t making a case for going easy on sin, though. Observe.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Matthew 23:1-4 NIV (Emphasis mine)
The law has it’s place. Sin is deadly serious. Jesus gave his life because of it. He loved and helped people without condoning their sins. He doesn’t overlook our sins either. He says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)
Sin divides us from God. I’m a sinner with a list longer than my arm. Can you say you’re sinless? Only one person fit that bill, and he’s the one that reconciled us to God.
How To Respond
Paul addressed the need for love in 1st Corinthians 13:1-3:
“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. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
We are always to show the love of Jesus. It does mean speaking a hard truth when necessary. The emotional upheaval from a tragedy isn’t the proper time. Remember, we have a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
A kind act travels further than even the carefully chosen words.