Remember when we were able to have discussions with people and those discussions included divergent viewpoints? Not long ago, we were able to engage in dialogue, and if it turned out we didn’t agree, we had the ability to go our separate ways amicably. That’s no longer how people talk about anything anymore. We have a “take no prisoners” approach to any disagreement. We win, or we disengage. And if we have to, it seems, we will destroy those who disagree with us.
When did that become okay?
Obviously, I find this to be problematic. I also find it to be dishonoring to Christ.
In Philippians 4:4-7, the Apostle Paul writes these words:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This passage is rightly used to encourage prayer, but don’t miss the context – this is in response to being anxious. “Do not be anxious…” the apostle says. Before he writes that, though, he says, these words, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” That means that when someone makes us angry on social media, in dialogue, and in disagreement, the appropriate response is to be nice. Always.
I know this is easier said than done these days. We are polarized over a great many issues, but we will not come together by proving how right we are and how wrong someone else is. We will come together when we are able to be reasonable, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.
The world is desperate for this kind of reasoned approach. We who belong to Christ, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, ought to lead the way in being reasonable. Let us make it our ambition, our goal, to the kind of people Paul describes in Philippians 4.
Maybe we can bring some calm to the storm.