Today’s post is going to be a bit different than my regular life update posts, but it’s something I’ve been thinking on heavily lately.
As pretty much everyone knows at this point we are not only in the middle of a pandemic, we also are experiencing what I can only describe as an awakening to the racial struggle happening in our country. We are uncovering corruption in our leadership and having very important, very difficult conversations about how to fix these issues.
I don’t want to get into a ton of detail, mainly because I honestly feel that my knowledge of it all is inadequate to fully address all these issues. If you would like to dig deeper into anything happening right now, you really have all the answers you could want at your finger tips, thanks to the digital age.
Mainly, I want to address something I’ve been seeing a lot of that I wish we could fix. There’s been so many wonderful conversations, but there’s also been a huge division in the Christian community about how we should handle these issues.
I have seen silence from leaders, people complaining about silence from leaders, other leaders speaking out against racial injustice and then others criticizing them for holding an opinion and being outspoken against something. We can’t seem to agree on anything and it hurts me to see so many people who should be part of the same Body of Christ arguing seemingly nonstop.
I get that we are all still human, regardless of our heart felt desire to follow Christ and die to our sin nature, but I feel that one of the biggest things I have begun to see in the Christian Community this year is an utter lack of empathy for our fellow Image Bearers.
We are so concerned with our own personal earthly freedom that we have lost sight of the freedom we have inherited from Jesus Christ.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% for earthly freedom. If I had to try and label my political leanings I’d say I’m probably libertarian leaning on most issues in that regard. But let’s not let our knee jerk reactions to discomfort make us lose sight of the way we are called to interact with others.
I actually left a online Christian group a few months ago because it came out during a discussion over George Floyd’s death that the general consensus in the group was that empathy was unbiblical. I had never heard anyone say such a thing before and it just felt utterly wrong and directly contradicts what I read in verses such as 1 Peter 3:8 and Romans 12:15.
I am by nature an empath, which can honestly be very difficult to navigate in times like these. A few months ago I had an emotional meltdown just from going into a grocery store for a few minutes because of all the tension and fear I felt in the emotions of strangers around me. I’ve never really understood my empathetic nature or how to deal with it really, but I’ve also never experienced a global pandemic either so the amount of emotions going on is really intense compared to normal.
It’s really frustrating most of the time, because I have my own thoughts, opinions and emotions on everyday issues but I also tend to see both sides of arguments, so I end up attempting to bridge the gap and attempt to fix any communication errors, which can be exhausting. I’ve really tried to stop because I just don’t have the emotional energy to mediate anymore.
But, the bottom line is; it bugs me so much when people can’t see another persons pain. I know I’m not perfect and there have been times when I’ve been guilty of these same things, but I’m trying daily to see past my own emotions and feel what someone else is feeling and understand where they are coming from in order to love them better. We don’t have to agree, that isn’t a requirement, I just want to follow what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
I’m not going to try and tell you what to believe or how to vote, that’s a personal decision between you and God. All I want to do is remind self-professing Christians that having empathy towards others is key in loving them the way we are called to do. Before we launch into “debates” where we utilize name calling and make blanket statements about groups of people we need to remember that those people are also created in the image of God and if they aren’t already saved, our witness could make all the difference, in one way or the other.
The bottom line is what kind of reputation do you want to have as a Christian?
You can stand unwaveringly for the truth but do it from a place of humbleness and love. You don’t have to beat people over the head with it. Stand for truth, uphold your biblically based beliefs but do so in a way that inspires respect and not repulsion.
Of course I understand that some people will have an issue with what you say no matter how kindly you word it. These aren’t the situations I’m referring to. Sometimes it’s better to not engage or simply respond with an “agree to disagree” closing statement.
I pray that through all this conflict we Christians can start to understand how to approach tough subjects with each other and non-believers in a loving way where we can be empathetic toward their differing opinions without hatred or malice. Where we can stand with them and say “I understand you feel strongly about this, I’ll be praying for you to have peace through it.” instead of futilely arguing and contributing to the divisiveness happening right now.