Modeling

What will heal the divide we have in our nation?

Pastor Hamilton has the answer.

The Christian Church.

What are we going to have to do to start the healing?

Pay attention to what we are modeling.

He hits us hard with the following words: “Part of the polarization we are experiencing in our country is a result of pastors and church leaders who have abandoned the teaching of Jesus and the apostles regarding the way we speak to those with whom we disagree.”

“Abandoned”.

Harsh words but are they true?

When we are supposed to model a loving attitude toward our fellow man, what are we modeling?

Before you go too far and accuse me of being a “wimp”, I believe it is appropriate to speak out in the face of people doing wrong. I think what Pastor Hamilton is accusing us of is using hateful language when it is not needed, when it is not necessary, when it causes polarization.

This example is out of the socio-political arena but maybe it will suffice. One of the most disappointing things I ever have to do is stand in a return line.  It could be a Walmart, Lowes etc., any store where they sell a lot of products and people are dissatisfied with the product or it just does not meet their needs.

The customer service clerk in the return line has one of the toughest jobs on earth.

What is so disappointing is the way people handle their return.

What works best? To have your receipt and a reasonable explanation about why the product is being returned and just explain yourself.  The clerk is going to listen and make it right.

What often happens? A cursing.

It happens over and over again as people pull out threatening language when it is not necessary. The return clerk is probably going to satisfy the customer but they are berated by language that is much less than flattering.

Now I know you may be thinking, why worry about this? These people in the return line are not Christians.  Think again.  Some of them say they are but what is happening to them?  They are having a disconnect.  They are saving their “Christian” behavior for church I guess.  Outside church in the return line they are showing they know some words which are far from appropriate and modeling something—not their Christian beliefs.

What has happened? Instant polarization.  The return clerk is on one side and the returnee is on the other and because of bad language, neither person is in a position to appreciate the other.

What should be done?

Better modeling.

How to do it?

Pastor Hamilton lays out a four point plan in chapter three: remember Jesus calls on us to not judge and not call other people bad names [see Matthew 5: 21-22], search your own heart and see why you are using the bad language [insecurity, need for power, bad day etc.], find something in the other person’s position that is good, something that you can agree with [instead of focusing on criticism and weakness and other negative factors], and finally be humble. Admit that you are not always able to see other people as God sees them.  Remember that you may not be privy to all the facts.  Think about your own humanity and how all of us fall short of the glory of God.

Whether it is a product return at a big box store, a political discussion, a chance to say something slanderous about another human being, we need to learn to control our tongues.

We have to think, how am I showing my faith to others in the words I am getting ready to use right now?

Are you really showing how much your faith has not helped you to become a better person, how you are like the ordinary Joe on the street?

Is that what you think God wants from you?

Probably not.

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