One day, a child was playing with a baseball bat in the yard while his parents were off in the distance near the trees.
The boy threw a baseball into the air and struck it.
For a moment, he was worried it would hit his parents, whom he loved very much. Instead, it went into the trees.
Relieved, he waved to his parents, who saw him and smiled.
Then, suddenly, the father started beating the boy’s mother.
He was whacking her all over, and she was screaming, and they both fell to the ground.
But the father KEPT ON beating the mother.
Then the father got up and jerked her arm hard, dragging her away.
The boy stood wide-eyed in horror.
Then he gathered his wits and ran toward them, screaming, “Stop it! Stop hurting my mommy!”
He lifted his baseball bat, and came at his father, ready to protect his mother. . .
The only problem was that his father was not beating his mother.
You see, when the boy sent the baseball into the trees, he knocked down a large beehive, sending a swarm of tiny insects out to attack his mother.
From the boy’s vantage point, the bees were too small for him to see.
He was right, of course, that his father was striking his mother. But instead of trying to hurt her, he was trying to save her.
The father was also, of course, effectively hurting the boy’s mother. But the father’s intentions, and the unique perspective he had?
They changed everything.
This, to me, is 2020 American politics.
In an increasingly polarized world, everyone seems ready to tear each other’s throats out.
Political radicalization leads to anger and violence. So, it’s no surprise this year has been filled with anger and violence.
Just remember: the further you stand from someone, the harder it is to see the bees surrounding them.
Arguing with someone else online about their politics helps nothing. So, let’s avoid that here.
In contrast, let’s look to Scripture about how God expects us to conduct ourselves when we disagree with others.
“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” –Ecclesiastes 7:9
That means anger in response to people’s opinions is a sign that we’re a fool.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2
We shouldn’t assume that we know better than everyone else. Even if we are well informed.
If we make certain our responses are measured with patience and tempered by gentleness, we will avoid stirring up trouble.
“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” – Proverbs 15:18
If one person is angry and spewing insults, yet the other remains calm, who looks more foolish? Let your opponent’s anger indict him or her. It saves you energy and keeps you from looking bad or saying something you’ll regret. In addition, it often diffuses the situation.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” –Psalm 37:7-9
Fretting over political outcomes, or getting angry over the results, only leads to evil.
Instead, we are to be still before God, and to wait patiently for his will to be done. Because God’s will is certainly always being fulfilled.
In the end, those who do evil will get what they deserve. And all that is secret will be made known.
Us getting riled up about their evil doesn’t aid that process. It just ruins our mood, and makes us hard to be around.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
Is the comment I want to make arrogant? Then I definitely shouldn’t share it.
“Know this, beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” – James 1:19
Am I itching to respond to that doorknob who posted something that I think is heinously stupid?
Instead of getting angry, or responding quickly, I need to remind myself that it is better to hear what they are saying, then walk away.
To give myself time to mull over it and try to see their perspective.
Then, if I still think that what they just shared is heinously stupid, I can say, “It’s okay that they think something heinously stupid. I don’t need to respond to them. In fact, it’s better if I don’t, so that I don’t stir up trouble, or accidentally say something heinously stupid myself.”
Because what’s worse than one person being heinously stupid? Two people being heinously stupid.
And when have I done something heinously stupid and actually realized in the moment that what I was doing was heinously stupid? Not once.
Actually, without fail, I thought the heinously stupid thing was brilliant. Until later. When I realized it was heinously stupid.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” –Proverbs 16:32
Anger that pushes us to lash out over political opinions is not a sign that we’re right. It’s a sign that we’re immature.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.” – 2 Timothy 2:24
No one ever teaches someone by being quarrelsome.
But isn’t that the reason for why we lash out at people so often?
“I’ll teach them a thing or two! That bozo has no idea what he’s talking about. This snappy come-back will sure get ‘im!”
Yet here, Scripture implies that those with the ability to teach will avoid quarreling.
What’s the consistent message throughout Scripture?
Be patient, not quickly angered. Be calm and gentle, rather than reactive and aggressive. Be self-controlled and clear-headed, rather than controlled by our emotions and muddled by fury.
Alright. Let’s pray.
Lord, give us patience and peace during these times of upheaval. Give us wisdom, so that we don’t embarrass ourselves, or stir up trouble. Teach us to be slow to speak, and quick to listen. So that we can come to understand others’ perspectives, rather than assuming we understand their intentions from afar. And strengthen us to treat people with dignity, and to admit when we’re wrong. In addition, when someone says or thinks something that is wrong, remind us that this does not automatically give us the right or privilege to correct them. Give us eyes to see when words should be spoken, and when they should be withheld. Amen!
Go on a week-long fast of any sort of partisan news info. Which basically means ALL news. Trust me, you’ll be fine. 🙂
PS: Yes, I forgot the image this week. I’m terrible at remembering recurring administrative tasks!