Was the love of Jesus inclusive or exclusive? What do we do with stories that contradict where one says all are welcome and another uncovers exclusion of outsiders?
Conflict is messy. Typically, when we go into an argument, we are quick to blame the other person. But a close look at our own motives and flaws will reveal that the other person isn't 100% at fault. Only when we acknowledge our own crazy, even if they still get 97% of it, can we begin to discuss hot-button issues.
Not sure you actually own 3% of the crazy? Watch this before reading more.
The following advice is for both online and offline conflicts. When you start to feel hot-headed, take a knee. Remember that Jesus spoke hard truths but his love for those he interacted with has never fallen into question.
Check your heart
If your goal is to change someone’s mind, you know seek confirmation that you are right, it’s best to walk away.
Mathew 7:1-6 tells each of us to check ourselves. The first verse “Do not judge, or you will be judged” is often used to ward off judgment of any kind. That’s not what the verse is telling us. In fact, we are to judge. You’re to judge me right now and flip open your Bible and take a look for yourself to see if what I’m saying is true. If we throw out judgment all together then how would we recognize the false prophets 7:13 warns us against?
What Matthew is saying is that you and I are to check our own heart and motivation first. We have to deal with our 3% before we can speak with grace and love.
Don’t live in a bubble. Create spaces where you hear other sides. Learn to engage with the world and culture around you. Get uncomfortable; it's where real change happens.
Recognize your own bias and set aside preconceived ideas. Really listen to the person in front of you. After hearing them out, even if you still disagree, you may find you understand how they arrived at their belief.
Christ's life is an example of what this looks like. When he came across the hungry, he fed them. When he met the blind, he gave them sight. He addressed their need and then he could say I know you and I'm here.
Stay away from personal attacks
Stick to the issue you are discussing. Only God knows a person's motivations. There is a story behind the person standing in front of you. A story that led them to this moment. If you listen carefully, you might begin to see them as a person deeply in need of God's grace. They won't benefit from your assumptions or personal attack; neither will you or your cause.
Friend, there is hope for us yet. We can stand strong for the values of Jesus without sacrificing the grace of Jesus. And we can do it without being an @$$.