Of late I have observed quite a number of quick tempered people who are swift to criticize, assume, judge or flat out blow up over other people’s perspectives or efforts. I actually witnessed an angry criticism from an individual who was distraught that Bible study software was being promoted at a church to help people study the Bible more. Really?! Even the current “Love Your City” series at the Rock Church has upset a few people because a vision to bring Hope to San Diego and the world has been shared that will involve sacrifice. Pastor Miles even qualified his entire message that he is just asking people to pray as to what God will have people do and he encouraged people to simply be obedient to God. Rick Warren’s recent interview about all the rumors and slander against his ministry makes a clear case how people take second-hand information to spread discord, which by the way, God hates (Proverbs 6:19). (The interview I’m referring to is at www.edstetzer.com/2012/03/rick-warren-interview-on-musli.html )
Then there’s the YouTube video “Kony2012” that seeks to rally people around stopping the murder and kidnapping of children. Just read the trailer comments and you will see the sparks fly. It just so happens that Jason Russell who leads Invisible Children and who is the director of Kony2012 is a family friend. I know the man and the organization in relation to their humble hearts and that they simply are burdened to stop the killing of children. I’m sure there are as many opinions on the issues as there are people who have watched the video. But to know the family is to know that their hearts are simply burdened to see children saved. To react to or to assume about situations without first-hand information or relationships leads to so much heartache. And perhaps right now, as you read this blog your heart rate is starting to race because you have strong opinions on subjects I’ve just introduced. I guess we are not too different from the early church. Paul dealt with division, but his response was “…whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” (Phil. 1:18) When those who came to Jesus and had a different way of doing things, He stated, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.” (Luke 9:50) Now please hear me, I’m not saying that truth doesn’t matter. Paul also wrote, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8) Truth and love tend to be in tension at times. Truth does bring division into situations (just read Matthew 10:34-39). But before reacting, hear people out, listen, learn and discern. Consider the grace shown to you in Christ and then reflect that grace to others. Then pass everything through the filter of 1. Corinthians 13. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (verses 4-8) I have found that when I take the stance of love, seldom does it fail. I fail, but love never does.