Like yanking the ears of a dog, so is one who passes by and gets involved in another person’s fight.
-Proverbs 26:17 (CEB)
Recently, I got more involved in social media. It is hard for me, because of the fighting. I want to be involved but not feel beat up, nor ever be unkind to others.
I believe in civil discourse. I believe in conversations, discussions and even debates. But I worry that we, myself included, often have a listening deficit.
Because of this, we sometimes have 'dialogues of the deaf'. We just do not hear each other. But hearing is loving. Even if we do not understand, listening is the loving start to authentic relating.
I saw the Barna report, that was released a week ago, Why People Fight Online. It seeks answers to some of the same questions I have and might be helpful to you.
Years ago, for the first time, I heard a Christian leader use cuss words in a dark parking lot where he had to know that other Christians were also on their way to their cars, and I was surprised and realized just how human he was and what pressure he was probably under. The other day, I witnessed a godly person type a (4 letter) cuss word, in response to a post online. And almost every day, I witness Christians sneering at each other with words on line.
The other day I wrote that certain ones were 'wrong'. Hours later, I got offended that someone was calling out someone, perhaps saying they were wrong, but then realized they were doing exactly what I did, except I was more sympathetic to me than them.
I realized that the better way is to say, 'I disagree'. 'You are wrong' can and does devolve into 'you are an idiot'. I used to see an epidemic of Christians who called themselves idiots and now I see too many calling other Christians idiots.
When we cease to see someone as a person, we are in trouble. We see them and treat them as 'the enemy' and go to war with them.
I met a professional minister at a retreat once. I questioned a belief of his in a one on one conversation and he snapped into 'war mode' and yelled out to the others who were five or ten feet away, saying, "this guy _____!", and castigated me out loud, for what I had said. I excused myself from his company after that outburst. He was obnoxious, but I have probably done that same thing to others.
This is the advice I am giving myself today:
Don't react. Act, listen and then respond from love and in Christlikeness.
Live by the motto of, 'you can't win them all'. If Jesus who was without fault, did not convince everyone; certainly we will not.
Act in your own life, rather than living reactively. When you are living your life and from living your own life, listen to others when you come into contact with them. Many people pass by us or we pass by them, seeing or hearing them, but we don't need to respond to them.
Live your own life, taking your journey with your fellow journey-people; mainly talking to them. The new conversations, with new people you come across are just that: new and conversations. Listen with curiosity and respond with kindness.
Most people we will only meet and greet and possibly become acquainted with. There is the one chance for a first impression and most likely only one time together. If you are in Christ, it makes sense to be kind.
If God has been kind to you, it makes perfect sense for you to be kind to those you meet; online and in person.
Take action in your life.
Be a listener.
Respond in love.
- Do your own thing in your own life that God has given you to do.
- Become who God has created you to be.
- Create what you were born to create.
- Find, walk in and live out your own ministry.
- Cultivate your personal, private, vital union with God.
- Make sure you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
- Hear what the other person is saying.
- Seek to understand.
- Ask questions for clarification.
- Cultivate a heart of mercy, love and compassion.
- Learn that listening is love.
- Don't stop listening until you get it.
- Only from love
- With kindness
- For reconciliation
- As a peacemaker
- With the gospel in mind
- Standing at the cross, seeing Jesus
- In resurrection life, by Christ