Civility or Devility
"I tell it like it is!"
I've heard a lot of people use this statement. And I really don't like it.
No, you don't "tell it like it is." You tell it like your own opinion. You tell it like you think it is. You tell it like you see it. But you are not omniscient - all-knowing - so you can't tell it like it is.
And that's telling it like I see it.
The ability to just talk about issues of disagreement seems totally lost nowadays. People can't seem to disagree agreeably. It seems that once someone has an opinion, I'm right. You cannot possibly be right. You are evil for disagreeing with me. You speak hate.
Two quotes from John Wesley - father of Methodism - come to my mind:
“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” -Sermon 39, Catholic Spirit
"When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man."
Reply to a letter signed "Philosophaster" addressed to him in the London Magazine of 1774, in London Magazine 1775, p. 26
Our problem right now is that everyone is so angry all the time. Rage seems to be the emotion du jour. People run into their respective corners of the fighting ring and come out shooting.
I'm not talking about compromising the truth of the Gospel; I'm talking here about civility vs. devility (I just coined that one). I'm talking about talking about (yes I meant to say that twice) - without rage or mayhem. We're living right now in the most divided time in our nation's history than even the Civil War. There is no working out of problems; there is only kill or be killed. This extends to the church 'way too often. "I don't like what he/she said so I'm leaving!" "As long as he/she is here I'm withholding my tithe" (read Malachi 3:8-12 about "robbing God" - talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!).
It's destructive wherever it happens - Refusing the right to speak if it isn't agreeable to you. Screaming, often obscenities, to drown out the voice of a message you don't like hearing. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth, which makes your ears twice as important as your mouth. It won't kill anybody to listen to something you don't agree with. Just listen with some of the courtesy that is so lacking in our current public discourse. Listen, ask questions, exchange opinions. Hold fast to the content of the Gospel without compromise, but present the Gospel in a civil way: "But 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; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed." (1 Peter 3:15-16 NKJV)
A Christian must especially keep a civil tongue, to fellow believers and non-believers alike. Come on, folks, try to be adults, spiritually mature Christian people who are a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. What if ANTIFA comes to church this Sunday? Will they see and hear a significant difference between brownshirt tactics and proclamation of the Gospel through word and work?
I think nowhere else is this so prominently demonstrated than in the current raging over the issue of immigration. No one can hear proposals for solutions because everyone is just yelling. Rage has no ears, only mouths and fists. We're not going to solve this problem without some civil conversation being allowed. I don't have the solution - I can't "tell it like it is" - but I can probably learn enough by listening think of some positive solutions. Because the problem is not going to go away with everybody screaming accusations at each other.
Lord Jesus Christ, gives us civility and deliver us from devility. We are drowning in rage. God save America and God save His church from imitating the world in word and deed.
And that's telling it like it is. In my opinion.
Blessings from here to eternity,