Sometimes I’m confused, and other times I’m upset and frustrated, but my most common feeling lately is sadness.
Never in my lifetime have I experienced a global pandemic, a worldwide recession with unemployment equal to the Great Depression, and civil unrest simultaneously. (Oh, and just for fun, let’s throw in a presidential election too.)
Far more than ever, I’m taking calls from people who are deeply depressed, and some are suicidal. (I literally just got off the phone with a young person who wants to die.)
More than I’ve ever seen before, the stress of our times is affecting marriages, families, and stretching a lot of relationships to the breaking point.
Regardless of where a person lands on any particular issue—conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between—the tension in our culture is deeper and broader than ever before.
People are fatigued, frustrated, and fed up.
We all know what social distancing is, but what might be considered the plague of social media is distancing friends and family members in horrible ways.
We all know that dissension is damaging to relationships, but DEVICE-iveness (that smartphone or tablet in your hand) is often a weapon that is wounding souls.
Why is it so easy to be mean and flippant with a comment on Facebook or Twitter?
Why are we so quick to lash out at someone with angry emojis and way too many exclamation points?
Why are we so mad and so quick to emotionally vomit on a person we might not even know?
I’m never surprised when I hear or see someone in politics get mean and nasty. I’m not shocked when one party member calls someone in another party a foul and obscene swearword.
I’m not stunned when an atheist calls a Christian an idiot.
I’m not discouraged by the occasional sibling squabble. (I’ve been wrestling with my brothers for decades.)
However, it breaks my heart when someone who calls themselves a Christ-follower curses or speaks evil of another Christian.
That’s why my most prevalent emotion nowadays is sadness because this ought not to be so.
We don’t have to agree.
We don’t have to see things the same way.
We don’t even have to like each other.
We are, in fact, free to have differences of opinion.
But we must be kind.
By the way, that’s what it looks like when we love one another, serve one another, and honor (i.e., esteem, value) one another. Those “one another” commandments define kindness at its core, and they are commandments—not suggestions.
I believe it’s time to go back to a lesson most of us were taught as children: If you can’t say anything kind, don’t say anything at all.
Remember the warning of James:
The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6 (ESV)
Seriously, oh be careful little tongue what you say . . . .
Life is messy. Relationships are challenging. And it’s okay when “iron sharpens iron,” but it’s not alright to hammer your brother or sister.
It’s okay to look another Christ-follower in the eye and say, “I think you’re wrong on this one, and I strongly disagree.”
But it’s never acceptable to be harsh, ugly, vile, mean, or nasty with anyone, let alone someone you’re going to be with forever.
To be clear: Unity is not sameness, but it is kindness.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,
so that the world may know that you sent me
and loved them even as you loved me.
John 17:22-23 (ESV)