Our culture is at a crossroads. Many groups of people are calling for change, and more people are listening. We have the ability to shine the light on and communicate problems like never before. And people are willing to be vocal. But we don’t all agree on what our culture should look like. And while disagreement is not a problem, how we disagree can be.
Why We Need to Step Out of the Toxic Loop
Recently, disagreements within our society have devolved from constructive conversation to angry, self-righteous statements and accusations. Of course, this isn’t helpful. Angry discourse only perpetuates a toxic loop of rage and self-righteousness that harms our relationships with others. Rather than convincing people we have a point worth considering, we are triggering defensive feelings and causing people to entrench in a sense that we are wrong, and they are right. It’s not rational. It’s emotional. And the more emotional we feel, the less opportunity we have for rational discussion.
Why is this especially important for Christians? The last thing we want to be is the enemy. And to a large portion of the population, that is exactly what we have become. Moreover, this perception makes our one true mission of sharing the hope within us much harder to accomplish.
As Christians, we are commanded to share the gospel, make disciples, and love others as Christ loved us. Anything that gets in the way of that mission must be set aside.
- If you care more about culture than the gospel, you are missing the point.
- If you care more about masks than the gospel, you are missing the point.
- If you care more about sharing your political opinions than the gospel, you are missing the point.
- If you care more about being right than loving others, you are missing the point.
Three Ways to Lovingly Engage with People
So how do we get more on point?
Listen more than you talk.
Pastors Tony and Roger have encouraged us many times how and why to do this in their current series, Balance. If we listen more, we will likely discover that we agree that a problem exists. We simply have different solutions.
Yet, solutions are negotiable. Allowing problems to persist is not. And the more we can find to agree on, the more opportunity we have to build sympathy and empathy, both of which can provide an opening to share the gospel.
Use your platform to share what is most important: the gospel.
Every time you prepare to post online ask yourself if it is something you are saying out of anger or love. Will your post encourage conversation or discourage it? Are you ready and willing to listen and lovingly engage with people who hold other opinions? Will your post help you share the hope you found in Jesus or will it create barriers?
Spend more energy pursuing good than fighting evil.
If you want to truly effect change, focus on the good rather the bad. People will follow good and allow it to change them, but they will resist following or being changed by something that comes across as self-righteous, angry, or hateful.
I am neither asking you to compromise your beliefs nor suggesting we value grace over truth. What I am saying is that how we communicate beliefs and truth matters.
When we take time to listen, we might perceive someone's beliefs are based on a framework other than the Bible. For example, Christians believe all people have value because God created them in his image. Others believe all people have value because people are basically good. And others don't truly value all people. Use discernment and pray about when and how to address those differences in a way that opens people up to the gospel message.
There Is Good News
Culture has been at a crossroads before, and it has changed many times. Yet Jesus and the gospel have never changed. They are always relevant and always transform lives.
It’s time to focus more on the timeless, unchanging, perfect truth of the gospel than focusing on the always-changing and always-flawed culture around us.
If you want to use your words to build up people and bring them hope, listen to Pastor Roger's message from the sermon series Balance. Are you struggling with the toxicity of social media and need a break? Read about Becky's journey here.