What do we do when our friends — defined as those closest to us, such as family, neighbors, co-workers, buddies — say things routinely that we find disturbing? Disturbing not because they’re offensive to us but because they’re offensive to things we believe in, that we cherish, that we hold to be true? Do we let the moment(s) pass, hoping the hurt will go away? Do we confront the person, ever so gently? If we say something, what do we hope will be the outcome? Renewed friendship? Deeper appreciation for one another’s core values? And if it doesn’t work out that way … then what?
“Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” — 2 Timothy 2:25 (NLT)
“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” — 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT recently ruled in a 5-4 decision not to uphold a Louisiana state law that would have required abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges.
While the court’s ruling was based on procedural grounds and court precedent, the wider public understandably sees the verdict as a setback for the pro-life movement and a victory for those supporting abortion.
Taking this into the political realm, the decision was seen by many as a rebuke of the Trump/Pence pro-life agenda and, of course, a smack-down of those of us who use the Bible’s words to support the life of the unborn infant.
The deeper reality of the court’s ruling is “None of the Above.”
THE REAL TARGET is Almighty God. The rebuke was to His will for our lives.
So, how are we to engage with our closest friends and associates, and those of a general public that gather on social media to trade their opinions and engage in discussion?
I chose two avenues. One was to post a message to my “wall.” Here it is:
“King David wrote these words 3,000 years ago: ‘You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’ God inspired that message (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). How do we square God’s message to us with today’s US Supreme Court ruling on abortion? Satan and his demons are rejoicing, but shame on those who rejoice along with them.”
The other avenue was to post the same message on the wall of a “friend” who rejoiced at the decision, especially gloating at a supposed defeat of Trump’s appointees. (Actually, the defection came from an appointee of President George W. Bush. Trump’s two appointees voted to approve the Louisiana statute.)
I don’t know what my friend did with her post. I don’t see it on her timeline, nor is my comment visible. I know she was unwilling to engage in dialogue with me. That “dialogue,” by the way, would have entailed my being pummeled by her coterie of friends, none of whom know me, and all of whom take glee in saying nasty things to me.
I KNEW THAT going in. I routinely engage in discussion with those whose views differ from mine, not because I am argumentative, but because I believe strongly that I, along with others, are called by the Lord to speak up for values that He has laid out in the Holy Bible.
Recently, I posted a Meditation titled, “Correcting False Testimony,” in which I argued for the faithful to challenge men/women in authority who misrepresent the Word of God, and a fellow blogger mentioned the other dilemma, what if the other person is not a church leader but a dear friend?
Those discussions can be the most difficult because, unlike the post regarding church leaders, we can’t walk away from the moments in which our friends are unbiblical. We can walk away from the church leaders and find another church.
HOW DO YOU handle those situations? Our text source above reminds us to “gently instruct” others and to respond to their questions “with meekness and fear” (other translations say “gentleness and respect”). Another verse (Gal. 6:1 NET) tells us to restore a lost brother or sister with a “spirit of gentleness.”
So, we’re pretty clear we’re to represent the Lord as His hands and feet, not prideful or boasting, not snarky or sarcastic, but loving, gentle, caring, and compassionate.
Who said being a Christian was going to be easy?
I freely admit that I pray before writing anything — my blog, e-mails to friends, postings on social media — because I want to represent the King, not my heart.
Also, I freely admit that I often walk away from a confrontation with friends on social media because (a) we’ve already discussed the issue and they’re unmoved to change, and (b) I don’t have the desire to be a human piñata for their ill-tempered comrades.
This post assumes that we are “in the right” and that we are following Scripture’s teaching. That needs to be part of our prayer, that we are living out the Gospel and speaking what the Gospel actually says.
Then, when we speak, we must be mindful of Paul’s words in Colossians 4:6 (ESV):
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Abba, Father, we humbly come to You, knowing that we are Your unworthy ambassadors. Still, our hearts burn to speak up for the Truth of Your Word, the reality of Your love, the power of Your grace. Help us, guide us, lead us, O Lord, to be faithful servants of the King. In Jesus’ name. AMEN