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.
Is your team winning? Has your chosen side or team or party or movement scored the most points this week or trolled the most people or schooled them on social media? The most likes or forwards or open letters or clever videos? Are you winning? Should you be trying to?
We are simultaneously headed into Super Bowl season (and then March Madness and then, and then...) and the first few months of a contentious new presidential administration. Never has there been more to fight over passionately, some good-natured and frivolous, some heated and substantive, life or death even. I've spent the last few years making myself aware of what I contribute to and absorb from the fray of social media. I take care to try not to be inflammatory or reactive, to add positive, encouraging, and inspiring posts, and to follow pages and groups that regularly share stories and pictures of inspiring people. And, I attempt to cull my own news feed of toxic people, posts, and rhetoric, unfollowing and unfriending people who are hateful, demeaning, or cruel. It's a difficult process of discernment to strain the negative, but retain that which is challenging to me, as not to create my own little bubble of like-minded people and news sources. I value the diversity and the way God uses those encounters to mold me into a new creation.
I am struck by the events of this week (not the playoffs). I am struck by the spectrum of people I know and love. Some of them are exhausted by politics in general. Some were at the inauguration, some were at marches. Some were angry at the inauguration AND the marches. Some were apathetic. My favorites were those who just kept posting pictures of kittens to keep the peace.
But amidst all of this, I did something that always seems to cut through all that, I spent time with my teenagers in our Sunday school class after the lock-in Saturday night. I asked them how many of them had friends who vehemently disagree with them on important topics. They all raised their hands. I asked if they had ever had their mind changed by one of those friends. Again, they all raised their hands. I asked them if they thought this was normal. They did. You see, studies show that young people, with their young minds, are more able to hold that tension. For all our talk about teenagers and young people thinking they know everything... most of them know enough to be open to ideas and growth and understanding and disagreement. Most of them could teach us a lot about how to see our opponents as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
I encouraged them to understand that believers can come to very different conclusions about their world, their country, its leaders and policies. I implored them to understand that while some of their friends may chant support or opposition or apathy, that they could still be friends, be kind, and raise their own voices in truth that shows love. And I hope all of us can learn to be a little more like they know how to be, child-like... and not child-ish. Because at the end of your week, our posts shouldn't reflect who "schooled" who or who blasted who on Twitter, but that we have tried to outdo one another in showing honor.
Prayer for Today
Lord, may the words I read and the words I share be holy, showing affection and honor to witness to your love for all people. Help me to outdo no one in anything but showing kindness. Amen.