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Communication busters: What lens are you looking through?

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Before we get to the meat of this post, I would like to go back and make a few comments on another.  In my response to Miro’s poem, Christians, I was reminded that this is nothing new.  True.  Those who do not want to be bothered with Christianity have been hating it and it’s proponents through the ages.  Many will continue to do so no matter how well Christians act.   I was also reminded that what I said may be misconstrued.  This is true as well.  And that leads me to this post.   The reason my words might be misconstrued is that we all tend to look through different lenses.  The Christian might read my post and understand completely what I was trying to say.  The non-Christian may see something else.  For instance,  I did not mean that Christian’s need to meet other’s ideas of proper behavior.  They need to meet God’s criteria.  Others will disagree, and that’s their business.

 

Knowing we have these lenses, it makes sense to take a second look at everything we see/hear/read/etc., as we navigate our world.  Are we seeing the truth or have we donned our own biased lenses to view it.  Misunderstandings abound because of this tendency.  We use the same words, but they have different meanings.  For the Christian, this means we need to see things through God’s lenses.  How does God see this person/situation/…?  If the Christian will look at his or her world through the lens of God’s eyes, we would better know what to do in each situation.  I apologize for the rather disorganized thoughts in this post, but it is what it is.

 

Lens 1:   God does not hate homosexuals conservatives democrats tea partiers occupiers gossips gluttons adulterers _______.  God hates SIN!   When God looks at a person, He sees the heart.  He may hate the sin the person is bound to, but He does not hate him or her.  He loved him or her enough to provide a way back to Him from their sinful condition.  Christians have to walk a line.  We are not to say bad is good, but we are to love the person.  This is an issue I struggle with, not because I don’t love the person, I do.  I struggle because I also have a deep need to speak God’s truth.  God reminds me that there is a time and a place for everything, even speaking truth.  I can speak the truth and still love.  This love is not dependent on other’s acceptance of it.  I love because God loves and gives me the grace to love others despite how they treat me or feel about me.

 

Lens 2:  If I do ____________  or don’t do ___________  I am better than others.  No, you’re not!  God’s criteria is the same for every person.  You cannot earn it.  You cannot get to it by following a list of “do”s and “don’t”s.  When we give Christ our sin, He gives us His righteousness.  It is the only righteousness that is good enough to meet God’s standards.  Our attempts at personal righteousness outside of Christ are pathetic at best.  This lens looks around and compares to others.  God’s lens looks at Christ and compares only to Him.  If we are wearing His righteousness, we make the cut.  If we are still trying to get good enough on our own, we do not.

 

Lens 3:  I have __________, so God must be happy with me and blesses me more than others.  NOT!   God doesn’t look at the things you have or don’t have when determining how or when to bless you.  He looks at your heart.  He looks at your future and what will be best for you.  He looks at your relationship with Jesus.  We cannot determine for ourselves whether something is a blessing or a curse.  Look at Job.  His life looked like a blessing, then looked like a curse, and then looked like a blessing.  None of what happened to him was because of something he did or didn’t do wrong.  You have to look through God’s lens to see whether something is a blessing or not.   Any time we elevate ourselves above other people, we better watch out.  That is pride and pride is not from God.

 

 

There are many more lenses, but I’m going to stop here.  What lenses do you see out there that keeps Christians from living like they should, bringing glory to God?   Can you see through God’s lens?    Has there been a time when you were looking at a situation or person in a certain way and God showed you how He sees the situation/person?  How did this effect/affect you?  What do you believe are some of the biggest distortions in our lenses that keep us from knowing truth?

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The same or different?

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As I was teaching my Sunday School class one day, a topic came up and discussion took off.  We were talking about the consequences of sin.  One girl asked, “So aren’t all sins the same?” sparking my teacher thoughts to ponder an answer.  The answer to that question is YES!  and NO!  But how do you explain that to an 8th grader?  I hope you guys will chime in.

Is all sin the same?  Yes

1.  There is no victimless sin.  All sin has consequences and all sin hurts others.

2.  All sin is missing the mark.  When it comes to our worthiness for heaven, one sin (of any kind) causes us to miss the standard of holiness needed to be accepted.  Whether we miss by an inch or a mile (human thinking), we still miss.  That’s why someone who did meet the standard, Jesus, had to pay for sin in our place.

3.  All people sin.  Yes, even you and I.  If there’s anyone out there who thinks they have not, let me know.  Then give me the numbers of the people who know you best so I can validate your perfectness.

4.  We are all “born to it.”   We are all born with a sin nature.  That means our tendency is to sin.  If anyone has ever been around a 2 year old (of any age), you know exactly what I mean.  We are born with a “my way” in our genes and seek “my way” the rest of our lives.  Hopefully some of that my way is tempered as we age, but it’s always with us.

5.  Sin’s eternal consequence is determined by accepting or rejecting Christ’s sacrifice/payment for sin.  All of us have the option to invalidate the eternal consequences of our sin.  When we accept Christ as Savior and allow Him to make the payment (He already took the punishment), we are no longer responsible for the eternal consequence of breaking God’s laws.  If we do not accept Him, it’s like having your brother take a spanking for you and still asking your Dad to give you a spanking too.  Why?

6.  We all make excuses for it.  Yes, we do!  We all have this tendency to justify our own sin.  ‘I can’t help it’, ‘I was born that way’, ‘It’s harder for me than others’ (the “I’m special” syndrome), and so many more.  Of course we’re ‘born that way’; it’s called a sin nature or the flesh.  All of us have different sins that beset us most.  The devil knows exactly which sins will take us down and seeks to keep us off our game in that/those areas by feeding us with lies.

7.  The only remedy for sin is Jesus.  This is covered above, but I wanted to add it and remind about the previous posts on feeding the flesh.  When 6 happens, and we are giving in to it repeatedly, we are feeding the flesh.  We need to starve the flesh and feed the spirit.  Thank you God for sending the remedy for our sin sickness.  Even though we may attempt to become more like Christ, none of us will accomplish it in this lifetime.

8.  We all minimize our own sins and maximize others.  In other words, we want everyone to believe that we’re special and have reasons we behave as we do.  However, we are not so open when it comes to other’s sins.  We tend to judge them more harshly than we judge ourselves.

 

Is all sin the same?  No

1.  The non-eternal consequences are different. 

►Some sins have more victims and deeper hurts than others.

For example:  Having a beloved spouse cheat on you hurts way worse than having an acquantance gossip about you.  By hurt, I mean heart-hurt, but the hurt can be in other areas as well.

►The depth of the consequences depends on the relationship with the person, our own emotional state, previous life experiences, what we tell ourselves about it, how public the sin is, and how chronic the sin is.

For example:  Murder takes a life.  Does not our own justice system parcel out consequences for sin according to it’s nature and harm?  Breaking a traffic law generally has less consequences to self and others thank murder.

 

HOWEVER

The Bible says that if we hate our brother, we have committed murder; if we lust, we have committed adultery; . . .   Doesn’t that negate all the stuff about sin not being the same?  No it doesn’t;  in many ways, it confirms it.  A sin of thought – i.e. hatred  hurts for sure, but if not taken to the extreme, it doesn’t take the life of the person.  {In many ways it takes the life of the hater, but that’s another post.}  The point of that is that we are all sinners.  Look in John 3 and Matthew 5 for more about this.

One of the points of reminding us that we are all guilty, even if only in our thought life, is to remind us that we are not to judge people’s motives.  We cannot cast the first stone because we are not guiltless.  We are not better than anyone else.

 

Due to time constraints, I am leaving this post at this. (I had to write this on actual paper and with a pen!)

 

I hope you will all read, cogitate and add to this post by giving other ideas for why sin is or isn’t all the same.  You can ask questions or post links to information about this topic.  How would you explain this to an 8th grader?   Do you believe there is any point in which all sin is not alike?   The comment box is yours :))

 

 

 

It’s all about the heart, Part III

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In case you missed them:   All about the heart, Part 1    All about the heart, Part II

Often my “Christian” posts are a part of my study for teaching my 7th, 8th and 9th graders in Sunday School at my Church.  The same is true with Part I of this series, and follows the posts about feeding the flesh and purity.  Today I used this blog loosely as my lesson.  You see last week we learned about Purity – what it is, why it’s good for us, etc..   After class, the students were all in the hall listening to a joke that was questionable.  I’m not sure they even understood why it was questionable or why doing this right after a lesson on purity would bother their SS teacher.

The trial of “Joke Teller”   

Our first activity of the day was to put “Joke Teller”, a former student who can handle being an object lesson, on trial.  We talked about what would make the joke “wrong”.  They immediately understood that it’s off color nature was not good.  It took a while to pull out of them, however, that the joke uses the Lord’s name in vain twice.  (See the 10 Commandments)  Once they understood what that meant, it was easy to lead them to a guilty verdict, not just for “Joke Teller” but for themselves too for listening (and retelling).  The joke may not seem such a big deal to many, but it was an object lesson opportunity this teacher could not pass up!

Line? What line?

Where’s the line?

For our next activity, we divided into three teams.  Each team had yellow electrical tape on the end of a table as close to the end as possible.  The goal was for each team to compete to be the one to get their car closest to on the tape without going over.  The three winners then faced off for an over-all winner.  We then discussed part of the ways we push disobedience (as per Part I) where we try to go as close to ‘the line’ as possible or even push our toe over it.  One point I wanted them to understand was that when we walk on the line all the time, it’s very easy to fall over the line.

If you can’t see me, I’m not guilty

Our next activity involved a game where a student was blindfolded and placed in a chair.  One at a time, other students were given a chance to try to steal a treasure from under the chair without

undercover

getting caught.  The seated person could use hands and feet and movement to try to tag anyone sneaking around them.  If a ‘thief’ was tagged, he or she became the owner of the treasure.  Then we broke down the next items on the list of ways we disobey (per Part I) by sneaking and thinking that “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”.   We used driving as an example (even though none of my students are drivers yet).  I asked them, “What happens when a person is driving along (over the speed limit or not) and they spot a police car?”  Answer:  “Slow down!”  Question 2:  “What does the person do after they get over the hill and away from the police?”  Answer:  “Speed back up!”  {Come on, you know you’re all guilty 😉 }

 

Integrity is what we do when no one is looking

Too many of us fall into the mentality that our ‘hidden’ faults aren’t that bad.  One danger here, aside from believing we can cross the line if no one sees us, is that we often tend to judge others for their failings without considering the extent of our own, especially the ones no one else knows about.

Did it ‘stick’?       

I get it already!

I sure like to think it did this time.  Games are a great way to get across to young people as object lessons.  At the end, as I was winding down and bringing them to the conclusion of the lesson, the students each had two coins in front of them they were not allowed to touch (fake ones).  The idea was for others to try to take the other’s coins without getting caught.  That didn’t happen, but as we talked, a couple students started to do/say something not right, and I saw them thought-check themselves.  For me – that’s a win!

I wanted to share the purpose of some of my recent posts for those who care to know.  You each get to make your own choices and suffer your own consequences.  I hope we’ve all learned something as we’ve walked through this together.

How important is integrity to you?

What are some other ways to show these concepts?

Do you think “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”?

What do you think of this series and is there anything you would like to see here?

Are there other questions or concepts you feel I could explore with my class?

It’s all about the heart, Part II

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If you missed the previous post, you can see it here:  It’s all about the heart.

Derek Mansker of http://nothrowaways.wordpress.com/  made a great comment on the previous post and brought up a good point about a concept that confuses even the most knowledgeable of Biblical Scholars.  Here is his comment:

“Well think about it like this: What does it mean to be free? We are not free in the sense we can do whatever we want. We are free to operate within a certain boundary- God’s. This is a great place to be, but there is that pesky me first attitude that gets in the way.”

Two questions that comes to mind:  Free from what? or Free to what?   We will expand on this in further posts.

In Christ, we are free.  Our sins have been paid for.  Does that mean we should continue to sin?  Paul asks this question in Romans 6:1-8 [v1].  How do we explain this in an understandable way?

1.  We who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, are free from the eternal consquences of our sin.  Our sin has been paid in full, and we no longer need to fear eternal separation from God and paying for our own sin.

2.  We are free of the law of sin.  We live in grace, not the law.  Does that mean we toss the law out the window?  Absolutely not!

a) Our physical bodies are still subject to the physical consquences of sin.  God’s law gives us guiderails to keep us safe and help us live the best life possible here on earth.  If we continue in habitual sin, our bodies will pay the consequences and we may not live as long on the earth as we could have.  We will also have a lot of misery in our lives because the consequences of sin, in the physical body, will still visit us.  If we cheat on our spouse, we will face consequences.  If we stuff our faces with junk food:  we will face consquences.  You get the picture.

b) We are dead to sin and are no longer chained to it to do its bidding.  I use the phrase “dead men don’t eat donuts” to remind me that I am dead in Christ and do not need the things I used to crave.  This takes us back full circle to the posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”.  We feed what we treasure.

c) We have lost our desire to sin.  If we have truly understood what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we will want to follow Him, thank Him, and become just like Him.  We will also want to please Him.  “Sin” or whatever you want to call it goes against our very nature as His children.  We are free, but we make the choice every day to do what is pleasing and right (or not) based on our love of the Savior and whether we have been feeding the spirit or the flesh.

d) We have Scripture – God’s love letter to us – and the Holy Spirit within to show us what we need to do and why.  It goes back to those guardrails we discussed previously.  The Bible lays out the things that will harm us and the things that will bless us.  The Holy Spirit whispers to us to go to the right or the left.  We are not on our own.

Imagine you bought a new flat screen television.  No, you didn’t buy it completely put together, you bought the parts and plan to put it together yourself.  Even with a guidebook, this would be a difficult if not impossible for the average Joe or Jane to do.  But, in this case, your best friend puts televisions together for a living.  He knows exactly what each piece is, where it goes, and why it goes there.  I’m guessing that even the most technologically impaired among us could get the job done with this helper.

So, is this concept understandable as I explained it here? 

How would you explain it? 

Are there other reasons for following ‘the rules’ even if you’re free to choose not to? 

Do you have other questions I (or other readers) might tackle? 

What do you think?

It’s all about the heart

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When it comes to the things we want to do or do not want to do, we want what we want.  Anyone who has spent any time at all with a 2 year old knows the truth in this statement – we do not like it when others put boundaries on us.  Hopefully, as we grow, we learn to accept boundaries from authority figures (including God).  This is true when it comes to living pure/holy/moral lives as well.   There are several ways to respond when God/Parents/Authority figures say “No!” (or do/go/stop/etc.).

You can’t make me!     It wasn't me!

I have a grandson, Roland, who has just turned 4.  This child is and was rebelious from the get go.  He simply does not want to do something if others tell him to do it and wants to do it if they tell him not to.  In teaching him to say “I’m sorry” after accidentally hurting someone (which happens quite often), we came to a head-to-head crisis.  At the crisis point, I had him on my lap, holding him there until he said “I’m sorry”.  It was a 45 minute struggle, and I was certainly tempted to let it go.  However, I understood that this was an important thing for him to learn.  Fortunately, I am stronger than he is.  Finally, after 45 minutes, he said, “I’m sorry.”   Game over, Grandma wins.  What Roland didn’t realize is that he won too.  He had learned a lesson about boundaries and doing what’s right.

Where’s the line?

Another incident that sticks in my mind with Roland happened early on.  The molding between the family room and kitchen is the “no cross zone” at our house (at the time).  I remember well the day Roland walked up to the line.  Grandma said, “No!” firmly.  He turned, looked at me full in the eyes, and stuck his toe over the line.  His eyes said, “This is a challenge.  Do you mean what you say or not?”  Grandma took the challenge, and Roland discovered that even a toe over the line is disobedience.

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forhead; When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid! unknown

The distraction technique

The next disobedience technique comes from my not-quite-two granddaughter.  She learned early, that if she could distract the adult telling her no, she could reach up with the other hand, swipe the item, and run like a bunny rabbit.  She thought she could get away with it if she wasn’t seen.  Of course, this didn’t work very often.  Sometimes it does work because parents can’t always see what their children are doing.  We sometimes think we can pull one over on God too, but He is never distracted.  In fact, He knew  you were going to do it before you did!

Sneaky fingers

Look over there, Gramma!

The next techinique, same granddaughter and similar in style, involves what I call sneaky fingers.  Marilyn is not allowed to touch the keys on my computer.  Of course she wants to do so– really bad.  So her techinque is to stand and watch as if she has no interest in the keys.  Soon a little hand slowly starts moving up toward the keys, slowly creeping upward with a final rush toward a key or two if she makes it close enough.  This is a form of distraction and attempt to hide her intent as well.

What??????

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The next technique I’ve seen in every child I’ve ever had in my care, but right now we’re discussing my two preschool grandchildren as my examples.  My 4 yo grandson was just potty trained.  Yes, it’s true.  He did not want to do it, and he fought every attempt.  His habit was to sneak off in a corner, an attempt to fly under the radar, and poop his pants.  As soon as he finished, he’d go right back to playing until the stench told on him.  Anytime kids are quiet . . . .   Marilyn is really good at this.  If she wants to do something, play with something, taste something, and has been told no, she will get very quiet, fall off the adult radar, and do whatever it was she wanted to do.  This falls into the category of deciet and an attempt to hide the ‘sin’ as well.

Obedience with a but…

The final category involves obedience, but with a heart attitude.  Outwardly, the obedience happens.  Inwardly, not so much.  Marilyn, when told no, stops what she’s doing and gets this hooded, gear-churning look on her face.  She will stand there like that for a minute or more.  She obeys, but Grandma knows she’s doing it out of duress and not because she wants to do it.  This is the category many Christians fall into:  I will obey you God, but in my heart, I’m really doing what I want.  This is the most insidious of the categories as well, because the attitude of disobedience is still there.

How's your heart?It’s all about the heart

Our determination to follow the rules, whether society’s, parents, or God’s, often begins and ends in the heart.  We see a police car and obey the speed limit while in view.  The minute we’re past, how many step on the gas and go right back to disobedience?  Do we think it’s OK to do something if no one is looking?  Do we step our toe over the line to see if we will get away with it?

Actions (or inactions) have consequences

Every thing we do or don’t do, every choice we make, every time we do something we know is not good for us or we’ve been told not to do, has a consquence.  The consequences can be mild or major, they may happen now or later, but they will happen.  Some of us decide experiencing the consquences is worth the momentary pleasures of the disobedience.  Some of us obey — with a but.  Some things have consequences for others.   We think we’re not hurting anyone else by our choices, but that’s not true.  Nothing we choose to do (or not do) happens in a vacuum.  Your choices effect (and affect) others.

So, what’s the point?  Ah, let’s go there.  There is a reason parents give rules.  There is a reason society gives rules.  There is a reason God gives rules.  Are they for our hurt?  Absolutely not! {Disclaimer:  I am aware some human beings may do things for our hurt – we’re talking about the rest of them.}  Do children understand all the rules their parents give them?  If only!  We may not always understand why we need to do or not do something.  Our obedience is not dependent on our understanding.  A right heart obeys because it is the right thing to do.  Understanding comes later.

Do you have a story about one of these techniques or others I have not included?

Have you ever used one of the above techniques or others to try to get your way?

Do you justify breaking rules or laws because you don’t agree with it or because it won’t hurt anyone?

What is your heart attitude?  Are you chronically disobedient?  Do you obey with a but…? 

Feel free to add your stories, questions or comments to this post.  You may be included in a future post 🙂

The following is for fun.  Having the granddaughter here…..

Stand Up – Veggie Tales

What is purity?

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How many bugs parts. . . until it's impure?

How many bug parts, aphids, thrips, rat hairs, feces, eggs, magots, etc., are acceptable in your food?  According to the FDA, you can have a minimum of these and more in your food before they declare it unclean.  You have probably eaten the equivalent of several bugs (and more) already this year.  Examples (via FDA website):  Pizza and other tomato sauces can have up to 34% mold count; Spinach can have up to 50 aphids, thrips or mites per  100 grams; Peanut butter must have less than 30 insect parts for every 100 grams.  Ok, now that you are sick to your stomach ready to barf aware of what the FDA considers ‘pure’, what do you think?

Purity, as defined by Dictionary.com includes:

(1) the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.

(2) freedom from any admixture or modifying addition.

(3) ceremonial or ritual cleanness.

(4) freedom from guilt or evil; innocence.

(5) physical chastity; virginity.

Not gonna happen

We would like (without success) for our food to be absolutely pure.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to keep contaminants from our food — if not along the process, then in your own home.  I won’t give you details in the interest of keeping you here instead of running to the bathroom causing you to never eat again.  But what about us?  God wants us to be pure.  What does that mean?  Is it even possible?

The basics

Just like our food, we allow contaminants in our lives that mar our purity.  Pornograpy is a huge contaminant.  Television, movies, games, etc. can contain images and words that contaminate.  According  to one article, Neilson claims the average child has seen 8,000 murders on TV by the time elementary school is completed. By age 18, that number jumps to 200,000.  The article also brings up the matter of commercialism.  Commercials are made to draw the child.  He sees. He wants. He demands. Often, he gets.  The child is constantly bombarded with images of items she does not have, teaching her that she is wanting in some way if she does not have these things — leading to coveting, envy, jealousy, discontent and more. These are only a few of the examples of “garbage” we willingly allow to go into the minds of our children.  Adult minds are not immune from the effects either.

Bombarded with impurities

Just as it is difficult to have a pure food item, it is difficult to remain pure in a world where we are constantly bombarded with impurities.   So how do we stay pure in an impure world?  Just like our food, it is impossible to be 100% pure in most ways, but if we don’t strive for purity, we will land far from it.  Whether of body or spirit, purity is a worthy goal to pursue.

How do we pursue purity?

1.  Guard our minds from impurities.  One way to do this is to turn off the television, choose not to see that movie, choose not to listen to that off-color joke, choose well the people we hang with, and stay away from certain web sites, among other things.  I could also mention putting on the armor of God here.

2. Fill our minds with the pure things.

  • Scripture:  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”  2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)  Meditating, reading, studying of scripture, thinking about good things
  • Thinking on good things:  “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Our lives will reflect what we fill them with.  Choosing purity must be intentional.  It will not happen if you just kind of hope it does.  It is a choice.  And along with the choice, must come the feeding of purity and the starving of impurity (See previous posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”).  This is true whether you are in a relationship with God or not.  What you feed in your life will show:  you are what you feed on! {You reap what you sow, Garbage In = Garbage Out, . . .}

What are some ways you choose purity?

What are some ways you drift along, allowing impurities in?

What are some ways to make purity intentional?

What does purity mean to you?

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

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