“And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1 NIV
Boy, are we hearing a cacophony of resounding gongs and clanging cymbals of late! There is a lot of name-calling, Bible quoting, hurtful, slanderous, and hateful words tossed around by many angry Christians and with good reason, but perhaps poor judgment.
Christians are writing and saying unkind things to both Christians and non-Christians. There seems to be an air of confrontation permeating every conversational medium and simply inserting an opinion (and it doesn’t matter who you agree or disagree with) prompts a piling on of criticism.
There is nothing wrong with sharing differing ideas, challenging conversations, or having your understanding stretched so that you search the Scriptures for clarity; but that is not what is happening. There is very little listening, a whole lot of misunderstanding, a glut of wrong assumption and excessive shouting.
The discourse addressing our culture and Christianity – including the words coming from many Christians – is missing a key component: Love. What does that say about us Christians? What does that say about our God? What does that say about our Savior?
In all of this, what are we saying about Jesus? What are unbelievers hearing about Jesus? Where is the love?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 NIV
Would anyone read your most recent comment on social media and know that you are a disciple of Christ Jesus? Is there love in your words? Could there be?
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11 NIV
I have a challenge to all the Christians who believe that it is their responsibility to engage in the dialogue (and clearly, I’m with you!) – let’s change the tone of the conversation!
Rather than telling people how wrong they are – let’s tell them who Jesus is. And should they choose to accept the Jesus of the Bible as their Savior, then the Holy Spirit will convict them of sin just as He convicts you and me.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” – John 14:15-16 NIV
Rather than telling people they are going to go to hell – let’s tell them about the One who saves them from hell. And should they choose to accept the One who is the Way the Life and the Truth, He will save them from hell.
“In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” – Isaiah 38:17
Rather than trying to argue people into our point of view – let’s live in such a way that they will want what we have. Then, when asked why we think and behave as we do, we will have earned the right and the platform for sharing the Gospel.
“For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already…” – John 3:16-18 NIV
Is this an unreasonable request? I don’t think so, unless our goal is to argue people into submission to our point of view. Getting someone to agree with you and change their behavior is simply converting them to your mindset. That is training Pharisees. There is no love in that. There is no regenerated heart. That is not salvation.
What is our goal in being a part of the conversation? To save the lost? Or to be right? Which is more loving? Are you beating a gong, or are you sharing the love of Jesus? Are your words falling on deaf ears that have heard way too many clanging cymbals? Would love soften the sound?
Is there love in your heart? If so, then it will overflow into your words. If what is coming out of your mouth, or your fingertips, is coming from rage, anger, disrespect, or dare I say – hate; then from what well is it flowing?