As for my companion, he betrayed his friends; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers! (Psalm 55:20-21 NLT)
No one can argue that the world we are in is in a world of hurt! In spite of our technological advances in healthcare, engineering, travel and yes—even communication, we are further apart as human beings now more than ever. The divide in our own nation is tangible. It’s paradoxical that the advances we’ve seen in the communication field have done more of a disservice to people actually communicating with each other!
The advent of social media has driven more people to slam their way into conversations that result in more division than ever before. Why? Because there is less and less true eye contact and thoughtfulness when it comes to “speaking our mind.”
What is more troubling for me is the divide it is creating in the Body of Christ. One deficiency has become glaring in light of the rhetoric that is spewed even under the guise of having good intentions. That deficiency is that even preachers and ministry leaders have forgotten the Who that rules over our relationships. Opinion has trumped soundness and prophetic indulgence has overruled heart and accuracy! And mostly, if we are honest, it is because we are more tribal than we are Kingdom! If there is total surrender to the lordship of Christ and submission to His Kingdom purposes then our theology must be lived out when it matters most. Our communication – at all times must bear that out. The current political divide, cultural divide, and quite frankly – opinion divide can do irreparable damage to existing ministry relationships like no other weapon can.
Your hurt, dismay, and even leanings MUST submit to God’s overall viewpoint ON EVERY MATTER. No amount of history, either personal or collective should have the power to damage what God has built in us. It helps to understand the dynamic of how this works especially in loss and grief. When there is a feeling of loss we revert to what is strongest in us as an ally.
Personally, I am Cuban born, white by pigment and raised exclusively in the United States. By culture I am Hispanic but by nature I am American. It is natural for me to relate to both worlds because it is MY world and there is no shame in that. But I am a Born-again, fully adopted son of the Kingdom and my total world-view is governed, ruled mind you, by my new creation mindset. I am part of the Kingdom of God and fully baptized into THAT reality. I no longer have the option to “surrender” my views to what once governed me nor do I submit myself to my old nature willfully. When it creeps up and damages my judgment by making me view the world through my old lenses it damages my responses to both worlds. Believers and especially leaders must make the choice to NOT revert to their old way of judgment, prejudice, retaliation, etc. That is simply tribalism. We either surrender ourselves to being led and governed by the Spirit of Christ or we are just like everyone else – plain and simple.
That understanding in practice means that I speak to injustice as a believer, I offer solutions as a believer, I respond to hate as a believer and I respond with love as a believer. When anything else creeps up I must destroy and take every thought captive that makes me act out otherwise. When believers speak they must speak from that vantage point – BUT THEY MUST SPEAK and act – but only from that vantage point. Not from their hurt, not from their loss and certainly not from the same spirit of destruction that is loosed. What is your ally and with WHOM do you identify? That is the question every Christian must adhere to regardless of the circumstances. You are not allowed to cherry-pick your way through pain. This is all-important because more than ever God expects our messaging to reflect His purposes and not ours. His messaging in every conflict comes easier when we adopt some rules for engagement even in hostile environments. God can and will use us to effectively use Kingdom messaging in a world of noise! We must never contribute to the noise if we want people to hear us. Here are some tips to employ…
Drop Your Baggage – In those rare occasions when I have back-to-back trips, I usually empty my bags and reload with clean garments and supplies. I don’t simply use the luggage filled with the last trip’s clothes! I unpack and repack. If you are going to dialogue – you must NOT lump all of the back-stories to the current one! Nothing does more to create blocked eardrums than this lumping method.
Own Some Honest Assessment – “Tit-for-tat” is not discourse and it certainly is not productive. The current climate of tension that exists between black Americans and the policing of such communities is a good example that has in some ways reignited a divide in the Church. Honest assessment requires that you outlaw what needs to be outlawed REGARDLESS of what others do. That means that ALL Kingdom-oriented leaders must condemn violence toward police officers without excuse or “reasoning” for the “anger” etc. If it is lawless and evil – then it is lawless and evil. When you don’t apply such understanding – you simply become complicit in those tactics of violence to others who are listening to their words. By the same token when white America dismisses the very real despair, humiliation, and yes—sometime inexcusable violence black American men face on a day-to-day basis from heavy handed policing as “old hat” then that community stops listening. Or when that very real discrimination causes the loss of life—why is there not empathy and uniform cries for justice from all sectors? It is important to assess EACH issue as it happens and not just react but respond conclusively for “what” is right—and not “who” is right.
Eliminate Nuisance Arguments – This relates to the back and forth that happens when we simply argue over the nuances of someone’s argument we disagree with. It is circular reasoning that eliminates the need to discuss the REAL problem. If you’ve ever entered into a corrective dialogue with a real five year old concerning his or her behavior you’ll understand what I am talking about! It never gets anywhere because a child will at times put their responsibility into a corner if they can justify it with someone else’s actions. It’s childish and it is destructive for Kingdom leaders to speak this way. Do not diminish your counterpart’s real feelings or fears if you want them to listen to you.
Avoid Prophetic Malpractice – This relates to speaking things in the name of God that God has NOT spoken. I do truly hate when some leaders believe their existing favor and trust affords them the license to speak authoritatively on EVERY subject – it does not. If you do choose to enter the fray of any issue and chalk up your commentary to “God says…”—then being truly prophetic means you are truly accountable to truth and truly and vocally repentant when you are wrong! There may be many in this current political cycle that may have some egg on their face and face unnecessary credibility issues because of this.
Speaking is your God-given right but being heard is earned! Make sure that you are building only the walls that God wants you to construct as far as being Kingdom-minded since our words have the ability as the Psalmist declared above, to do some damage. Our messaging needs some work. I suggest we determine to disciple that into our ministry systems as part of the overall apostolic work. Then, and only then—will we have earned the right to be heard.
© Jimmy Mas / www.newcityministry.com