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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Worthless, Foolish Talk

(Though I wrote this right after the election in early November, it just got posted today on CalledtoYouthMinistry.com. It seemed appropriate to share in light of heading into holidays with family and friends, and sadly, because of the heated rhetoric emerging out of the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary. Thanks for reading.)

Lessons from the Election
I think all of us would agree that we are glad that this election has passed. I saw in the news that it is estimated that $6 billion was spent! That explains why I felt so exhausted by the barrage of negative TV commercials and flyers in my mailbox.

However, this is the first major election that I recall where the dialogue was just as ugly on social media. Sure, we had Facebook and Twitter in 2008, but they were not operating at the intense levels they are now. I am more bothered by the posts I saw from my Facebook “friends” than by anything I saw from the candidates!

Other than unsubscribing the worst offenders from your Facebook feed, what is a Christian to do? I take counsel from Paul’s wise words to Timothy in what most scholars consider his last epistle from jail, written nearly two thousands years ago.

In 2Timothy 2, especially starting in verse 14, here are some of Paul’s words that we can take to heart and apply in very real ways in 2012:

Stop fighting. Period. There is not much to add to Paul’s words in verse 14: “Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.” May we never put more emphasis on where we disagree than on what we have in common.

Never attack other people, regardless of how strongly you feel about a given topic. I cannot deny that some of the issues at stake in this election will have massive consequences on the world stage. Nevertheless, we are called as believers to be respectful and kind. Hear Paul’s counsel again from verses 16-17: “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus.”

Pray for God to change hearts. Rather than debate and argue and post yet another toxic article on your Facebook, listen to these words: “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” (verses 24-25).

Don’t get me wrong – I really cared about this election. In fact, I voted early through my absentee ballot. But at the end of the day, I want to live out these words that John Wesley frequently quoted from Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

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