Have you ever been a member of an after-school’s debate club? As a former member of such a club, I join many who have credited their debate club for teaching them speaking and listening skills, for helping them to exhibit grace under pressure, perform critical thinking and foster empathy. However, whether or not we have been a member of a debate club cable television and social media have brought the debate to you.
The topics that are assigned to us range from personal to national, religious to secular, political to apolitical, and the simple to the complicated. COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson &Johnson Janssen), civil rights, censorship and freedom of speech, abortion rights, voting rights, social welfare programs, health insurance, climate change, the right to own a gun, death penalty/capital punishment, and artificial intelligence are all on the table. Let me encourage you to include the person of JESUS on the table. In short, include JESUS in your daily conversation with everyone, but especially non-Christians. Discuss the challenges of living the Christian life and why JESUS should be LORD of our lives.
Disagreement is rarely considered as something positive in some cultures or subcultures. It is rather viewed as an annoying obstacle to people receiving the truth. On the other hand, there are those who argue that disagreement can lead to several fruitful results. I personally believe that its human to have reasonable disagreement, and a healthy debate can have fruitful results among God’s people. You may agree with me that not all the debates we are exposed to on cable television and social media involved reasonable people or people exhibiting grace or much critical thinking.
As Christians, we should not shy away from the debates of our time, but we must strive for truthfulness and decency. We should strive for curiosity rather than a clash with others who disagrees with us. Conversations based on curiosity are efforts to understand and to find common ground. Instead of trying to win an argument regardless of the consequences, you should strive to cultivate understanding.
I believe Christians should strive daily to become more informed about the world around us. According to Occam Barber, “You are completely entitled to opinions that are not supported by evidence. But the moment you spread those opinions as fact you are a liar…” As a result, we have a responsibility to be honest consumers of that information. I implore you in your striving to get your information from different sides of the political spectrum that will expand your minds and increase your understanding of multiple sides of important issues. However, our primary source of truth must be the word of God and every philosophy, ideology, and school of thought must be weighed on that scale.
In closing, strive always to choose curiosity and empathy over conflict in your conversation with people with whom you have a disagreement. Listen to everyone’s stories and experiences since those are the platforms on which their convictions are usually based. Then and only then, you will have a true sense of how much we are all in need of God’s grace.
May the strength of God sustain you;
May the love of God go withyou this day and forever. Amen!
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor