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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Civil Discourse

Written by Scott Archer on October 2, 2013.

At the time of this writing, the government of the United States of America is closed for business. The longer the shutdown drags on, the more all of us will feel its effects directly or indirectly. As the threat of a government shutdown became a reality, traditional media and social media exploded with rants, opinions, editorials, jokes and accusations – each side blaming the other for the stalemate. And, almost everybody vowing to “vote the bums out” at the next available opportunity. Where’s my ballot?

While understanding the average person’s frustration at the situation – I’m certainly irritated myself – I must confess that I am concerned at the nature of some of the discourse I’ve heard and read, specifically from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The expressions of anger and the tenor of accusation seem unbecoming of a follower of Jesus Christ. As the political poles in our country continue to move farther and farther apart, the fearful, character bashing comments from Christian people about any issue or political figure from the local school board president to President Obama himself are very disconcerting. At the risk of sounding trite, as Christians, I think it’s time we took a step back and asked ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”, how would Jesus have us engage in public debate and discourse – especially in the age of social media?

I’m not smart or holy enough and there is not time here to fully answer that question, but I do have two thoughts.

First, and foremost, Christians are called to be people of prayer. Jesus himself taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And, the apostle Paul specifically directed us to pray and give thanks for kings and all those in authority,” (1 Timothy 2:1). Are we truly seeking God’s heart for our nation? Are we praying for our leaders? Are our public comments coming from this place of prayer, reflection and thanksgiving?

Secondly, government shutdown or not, Christians should be people and beacons of hope. We believe and know we live in a fallen world that outside of the grace of God is never going to get it right. So, even though we engage in the political process to the best of our knowledge and ability and work for the good of our country and our world, we are not looking to any political person or system for the ultimate fix. With our father, Abraham, we are “confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God,” (Hebrews 11:10). That hope should guard us from angry, fearful public engagement.

Respectfully and hopefully yours, Pastor Scott

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