Outrage is trendy right now, and it’s become the go-to method of communicating displeasure and calls for change in nearly every quadrant of social injustice. There are too many victims to keep track of. So many, in fact, that legitimate victims are being lost in the shuffle of the latest trendy thing to yell about. In an age where it’s easier than ever to potshot bold opinions from a distance with no regard for the consequences, we need a return to civil and balanced discourse. When we as Christians engage the world as if we are victims, as if we are terrified of the victory of those we disagree with, we sacrifice the primary message we were tasked with giving to the world.
So here’s a word for a beaten church:
Let’s just get this out of the way. We’re not beaten! We’re not victims suffering in a world that keeps winning ground. When the bible says we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) it means just that. We haven’t just conquered. We’ve absolutely and completely overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. If we keep approaching our human “enemies” with childish playground antics, we’ll never see the results made available to us through the power of Christ. I got an email recently that was incredulous and angry about a billboard posted by a liberal group in our city. My response: who cares? Why are we nitpicking every little thing as if that’s what will win us ground? Why are we acting as though a billboard is what could win the decisive victory for our opposition if we don’t yell about it as loud as we can? That’s how my children act, and my role as parent is to educate them to respond better to conflict. A lesson it seems too few of us carry into adulthood, particularly in the political world.
So here’s the voice of the parent. Let me gather the children to the table and communicate the rules of engagement. The game of loudest tattletale needs to stop. If you want to be heard, speak clearly and intelligently. If you want respect, show it first. If you want influence, start with kindness and connection. Where there have been offenses, choose forgiveness. Anger, fear and blame are poison in your own cup and make you appear bitter and shallow to those who are undecided and make you appear like a frothing fool to those sitting opposed to you. Flesh and blood are not the enemy (Ephesians 6:12). Another human being will never be your enemy. Even a human living in the most violent, foul and dangerous way is simply a tool in the hand of the true enemy, and redemption is still within reach. But no person will choose redemption from a hand that simultaneously smacks them in the face, while reaching out for assistance. And the true danger is that we are the hands and feet of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). When we use our metaphorical hands as fists of fury and treat other people as the enemy, they attribute that fury as the same attitude that Jesus must have toward them as well. We lose battles because of ignorant childishness, and we miss the fact that the war is already won.
Little one, you are capable of acting on your convictions without engaging in battles wherever you go. You are capable of inspirational leadership that draws in people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives through hope and joy, rather than leadership that creates mob-mentality through fear and accusation. The evil one is the accuser. We should never reflect his nature because we are not from him. We reflect the Reconciler. In fact, he gave to us His ministry of reconciliation, from a God who does not count people’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). Can we claim that of ourselves? Or have we lost track?
True leadership, true influence, true “winning,” is a concept infrequently taught. But power that flows from fear or anger will always be weak and foolish, ineffective and unappealing to anyone not already captive to those constant emotions. No, beloved, though I’ve been harsh, hear my heart: you were made for more. True leadership is inside you. We don’t have to fall back on the mentality of a people who are losing, because we are not losing. We are part of kingdom that is forcefully advancing and the forceful (not the fearful) take hold of it. How often has our father instructed us to “fear not” and yet how often have we spoken or acted in ways to inspire fear in others for the sake of leveraging influence? In our children? Spouses? In the unsaved? In our churches?
We have a responsibility to show the world a better way. Intelligently. Compassionately. Compellingly. Not by our own power, cleverness, or “correctness,” but through the power of the Holy Spirit and through unveiling the revelation of the goodness of God (Romans 2:4). The kingdom doesn’t advance through political or intellectual agreement. It advances one soul at a time. One discipleship step at a time. It’s patient. It’s unafraid. And it will never sacrifice kindness for the sake of “rightness” or expediency.
It’s time for the game of loudest tattletale to stop. This is not how we win battles. It’s how we lose ourselves to a battle that Christ has already won. We fight through prayer. We fight through personal conviction and action. We fight through kindness and persuasiveness. We fight through reflecting the king of light. We do have a battle, but the largest part of it is dealing with the parts of ourselves that aren’t in alignment with His ways. When we engage with the world from a position of alignment with Jesus, we don’t have to ask the world to change. It just shifts to accommodate the presence of the King. If others can’t see him and his nature through our words and actions about them or toward them, that’s when we have lost the only battle worth fighting. But we’re not beaten. Not unless we choose to be.