Posted by: pastortomvabeach | October 31, 2018

Thought For The Week November 4, 2018

Unless you have been living under a rock, you most likely have seen and heard the recent headlines about suspicious bomb-like packages being mailed to Democrat politicians and others who support them. Even under that rock, the news about the horrendous massacre at the synagogue in Pittsburg would probably reach you. What is happening in our country and what should be our response as Christians?

Dr. Michael Brown, Christian author, commentator, and host of a nationally syndicated radio program, is one voice I have found to be calm and reasoned and always searching for answers that God would want for us. He has written about other appalling events in our recent history with wisdom and clarity. I want to share a few of his thoughts and share one or two action steps.

After Congressman Steve Scalise was horribly wounded by a shooter bent on killing several of our elected representatives Dr. Brown wrote: “Without a doubt, the mainstream media, in harmony with other voices on the left, has helped to create an environment of extreme-Trump hatred. And while it’s true that, at times, the President has been his own worst enemy, does anyone really think that anti-Trump sentiments would be as intense as they are without the constant provocation of the leftwing media? But it is not just the left that is guilty. Reporting on the right has often been irresponsible and inflammatory, to the point that I’m surprised we haven’t seen more violent acts from those on the extreme right. And it’s not just the professional media…On the day of the shooting I tweeted, ‘Today’s shooting is a strong reminder that we in the media need to be responsible with our rhetoric lest we further provoke the unstable.’ In response, one man added, ‘‘The Media’ is now all of us. Don’t underestimate your influence. Use your voice responsibly.’”

After the events of last week and before the man alleged to be responsible for sending the possible bombs, Dr. Brown wrote: “At this moment, we don’t have answers…But what we do know is this: from Donald Trump to CNN and from leftwing radicals to the Hollywood elite, we have been on a collision course with extreme anger boiling over into violence. All are guilty, all are to blame, and all have a responsibility to speak responsibly. It’s time to temper the rhetoric. Otherwise there will be blood on the streets. This kind of rhetoric is utterly irresponsible and can easily lead to violent actions, especially by unstable people with an ax to grind.”

In calling all sides to temper their rhetoric, Dr. Brown said something that is very powerful: “Words do matter, and you are fueling the fires of…hysteria on a daily basis.” Proverbs 18:21 reads, Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and James 3:6 backs that up more strongly, The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness…staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. Words, whether spoken or written have explosive and destructive power. And lest you think I am singling out the media that is opposed to the current administration, I believe both sides fuel the fires of anger and hatred every hour.

Dr. Brown suggests that events like we are seeing are a word of warning to all of us. You and I may not be providing “Breaking News” on nation-wide TV but he says, “We need to think through the implications of what we post or tweet or record.” There is a lot more to media these days than TV and radio. When I post something on Facebook or Twitter (which I don’t use but if I did), it reaches a lot of people and the tone of my post can serve either to pour gasoline on the smoldering fires that are ready to ignite in our country or to splash in some calming water to settle the nerves and make us take a step back from a place no one wants to go.

Dr. Brown is introduced on his radio show this way every day: “Your voice of moral, cultural, and spiritual revolution.,” He says that he take great pains to explain what he means by “revolution”. It is “not a revolution of violence or anger or hatred or intimidation, but a Jesus revolution. A revolution where we overcome hatred with love, evil with good, and lies with truth. And I repeat this over and over because I know how easy it is to provoke people in the flesh, adding bad fuel to a wild fire. Can we not provoke people to life-giving action and to good deeds rather than to murderous hatred?”

Romans 12:17-21 offers some sound biblical wisdom: Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all….never avenge yourselves…for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. In the volatile atmosphere of 24/7 news and the flood of social media, we ought to listen to what God is telling us. As a Christian, we need not react to hostile rhetoric with equally provocative words. We are called to do whatever we can to live peaceable with everyone, especially those with whom we disagree, and to overcome evil, not with equal or greater evil, but with good.

I see a lot of offensive and even insulting postings on Facebook and in the news that I could react to with counter insults and aggressive retorts, but I choose not to post anything that would have the effect of dampening my claim that God loves everyone and wants everyone to come to Jesus. I choose not to repost offensive articles or posts even if they agree with my positions on issues because I believe we are to be peace makers and to show love to our enemies.

This does not mean I can’t or don’t have strong opinions on issues that relate to faith and godliness but that I will not express those in ways that could be misconstrued to create anger or hostility. Paul also told us to speak the truth in love. We can have honest debate about issues without using terms that could fuel the fire of violence. Another thought is that social media, email, texts, etc. are extremely poor venues for debate. If I can’t talk about something with someone face to face, I refuse to debate using anonymous means like those.

Let me end this with some more of Dr. Brown’s words: “It’s time we speak with greater responsibility, measuring our words carefully, considering the implications of our accusations, and pushing people to constructive, rather than destructive action. The shooting of Rep. Scalise and his colleagues is a warning to us all.”  I think it’s reasonable to also add that the terror of mailed bombs and the innocent lives at the synagogue ought to warn us even more strongly.

Just like words have the power of death, they also have the power of life. Let us be people who choose to spread life in a powerful way through our words, spoken or posted. Just a thought.

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