Beyond civility

After the Tuscon tragedy there is call to end the vitriol of our speech. I shared with our church that we are called to love our enemies perfectly. We are called to pray for the best for the shooter. To be a Christian in the United States means that we strive to bring those values of grace, truth, and compassion to the public square.

The shear childish response of people is bothersome to me. To claim it is alright to use hate speech because the other side does is wrong headed. We are not children. We are called to do the right thing, not follow the crowd. I have sat with liberal pastors who have said Bush is evil. I shared “I may disagree with him, but he is not evil. He is a good man, a child of God.”

Calling Obama a Nazi, communist, or socialis represents wrongheadedness as well.

Praying for one’s enemies and loving them so much that you want the best for them is not a part of the fabric of society. Victory and power rule as values, but that is what makes Christianity so at odds with the culture. We are to love those we ought to hate. Whether they are Republicans, Democrats, Bikers, Raider fans, Taliban, Jared Loughner, or Osama Bin Laden.

Three times, I failed. I thought Timothy McVeigh needed to die to assuage the public. It did not heal the United States. After 9/11, I failed to preach love our enemies. I knew that my congregation did not want to hear it. I sold out. I preached peace before the Iraq war, not as liberal, but as a Christian. It was not received well. Today, I pray for Jared Loughner. I pray for Sarah Palin. I pray for the voices on the left taking aim. I pray for all of us. We are a special country and God can use well if we let Him.

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2 Responses to “Beyond civility”

  1. Jen Waters Says:

    I agree! So many folks wear the WWJD bracelets, but seem to forget what it really is the Jesus would do. Jesus would not make a poster that says “I hate fags”, Jesus would not burn the Qu’ran, Jesus would not promote fear and hate. Being Christ-like is one of the Christian’s biggest
    Challenges..

  2. Shellie Says:

    Hi Neil,

    You’ve managed to express the growing gnawing sensation I feel as I realize more and more that the church is missing it when it comes to being change-agents in the world (and especially in the United States.)

    As a Christian, my desire is to serve and emulate Jesus Christ. WWJD isn’t a passe slogan to me, it’s a daily mantra of sorts. Because if I set my day on “cruise control” I will certainly fall into the familiar groove of finger pointing and opinion splaying that we see evidenced all around us in a culture desperate to be on the winning team, whatever the cost.

    Because I tend to lean more toward fiscal and political conservatism, I sometimes experience the “pat on the head, because she just doesn’t know any better” syndrome when I attempt to share what you have so beautifully written here, yet even then Christ calls me to love….to remain in relationship and community….to follow him.

    Many stand by their right to express negative opinions of others as their righteous duty, and it is true that justice demands action from us all; but to what end that action? Though we may agree on Micah’s call to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly”, what that looks like seems to be very different for many belivers.

    Thanks for “staying in the conversation”, and for reminding me that fitting in isn’t the way of Christ.

    Shellie Warren

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