I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is having to re-learn the lessons we are trying to teach our children! We tell them to be kind, to love others, to share, to be generous, and to love Jesus above all else. But I have been noticing some posts on Facebook lately and some attitudes in the adults around me (and admittedly, sometimes in me) that demonstrate the exact opposite of what we are teaching our kids!
Why is it that we tell our children to be kind, but then we feel justified in saying (or posting) things that are rude, abrasive, or just plain unkind? I have been noticing a lot of Christians lately who seem to think that their beliefs are better or more godly than those around them, and they think it is their right or responsibility to belittle other people who do not feel the same way that they do!
Honestly, this is something that I struggle with myself. I sometimes find myself trying to impose my convictions on other people without considering the fact that the Spirit may be leading them differently than me. This is something that I have really been praying over lately as I strive to learn how to be more like Christ.
Obviously, there are some things in the Bible that cannot be debated (although many have tried). In order to be a Christian, you must accept Christ into your heart as your Savior (Jn. 14:6). The 10 Commandments are pretty straight forward as well. But then there are the areas in the Bible that have divided churches, destroyed friendships, and created hostility among believers.
It’s not the Bible that’s the problem! It’s you and I. It’s our wicked hearts determined to take the glory away from God and focus it on ourselves. It’s forgetting what the Gospel is truly about and turning it into what is convenient for us. It’s allowing our pride to take over instead of putting into action the first and second greatest commandments – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39).
I am not saying that you shouldn’t stand strong in your convictions. I believe that God has given us the Holy Spirit to convict us when we are heading down the path of temptation. But just because you are convicted of something doesn’t mean that the Spirit is convicting someone else of that same thing! Unless it is clearly spelled out in Scripture, a conviction is simply one person’s belief and certainly not Law. The issue that may cause you to stumble in your daily walk may mean absolutely nothing for someone who has been raised in an entirely different environment than you or who has a different testimony than yours!
Some of the things I have been hearing and reading lately seem to be one person (or group of people) who are consumed with judging another group of people for how they worship. In fact, I believe one person even went as far as to claim that his beliefs were so correct that anyone who believed otherwise should check their Christianity! Does that sound like the kind of attitude that Christ wants us to have?
Luke 6:42 says, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Who then is righteous enough to cast the first stone?
I would never allow Hannah to get away with saying something unkind! I immediately discipline her, take her by the hand, and lead her back to that person to apologize. I would never allow her to put her feelings and thoughts before someone else’s. Yet we become adults and suddenly feel that our feelings and thoughts are more important! We suddenly disassociate from anyone who doesn’t share our opinions, and we refuse to believe that anyone else could love the Lord as much as we do if they have a difference in opinion. What we should be doing is allowing the Lord to take us by the hand and lead us back to our fellow believer to apologize because, at the end of the day, we are all sinners in need of grace.
So I urge you to take a step back the next time you want to impose your beliefs on someone else. While I don’t believe in keeping your beliefs a secret or even being ashamed of what you believe, I do believe that we need to be open to a difference in opinion and love each other despite our differences. After all, our goal should be to glorify God above anything else.