Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pray or Bicker?

Before social media, I guess we couldn't really see how much time we spend talking rather than doing.

As I browse certain blogs and my friends' postings on Facebook, it's amazing to realize how much time and effort some people put into defending their opinions.  It's something I used to do as well, until I realized that continuing to argue a point with somebody else who's obviously as dead-set against changing their viewpoint as I am is a waste of time.

It's one thing to put your opinion out there and let it stand or fall on its own merits.  Sometimes that can be productive, and sometimes not.  What's definitely not productive are those strings of posts and replies that run down the page.

One of the objectives I have for this blog you're reading involves laying a framework by which reason and rationale stand a respectable chance of resonating with people who may not have considered viewpoints like mine before.  I'm not saying that I'm absolutely, 100 percent correct all the time.  But if anybody disagrees with me, do so on the facts, like I try to do.

Yet even I am growing acutely aware that many of us evangelicals spend far more time debating among ourselves the things we should be doing, instead of going out and risking doing those things wrong.  In particular, I started reading a string of reader feedback on a popular Christian blog today regarding our response to the abortion crisis, and before long, I realized that instead of belittling other readers, like most of the men were doing, nobody apparently had realized that the time they were spending arguing their own perspectives (some of which were appallingly flimsy, by Biblical standards) could have been better spent at least praying for women seeking an abortion, and praying for our own attitudes on the subject.

If, after all, God looks at the heart (which we know He does), what does all of our arguing say about our response to the abortion crisis?  Which is better - arguing amongst fellow Christ-followers, or, when we really, honestly, don't know what more we can do about abortion, simply praying about it.  In the time it takes to blast out a vitriolic feedback response on a blog, we could beseech our Heavenly Father about it instead.  If we're serious about wanting to help save lives, shouldn't we trust that as we communicate our concerns with Him, He'll direct our paths regarding our response?

The abortion controversy has yet to be resolved to everybody's satisfaction in the history of our planet, and it won't be, because of the nature of sin, so what makes any of us think we have the perfect solution?  If we believe prayer changes things, then why don't we do more of it?

And believe me - I'm not preaching to you, as much as I'm yelling to myself.

Social media is great, in terms of allowing us to communicate in more immediate methods.  But if all we're doing with it is the same old arguing that Christians have been doing for millenia, then how is arguing faster going to solve anything?

This isn't just about abortion.  But we can usually rely on the topic of abortion to really incite strong reactions from the widest spectrum of society.  Which means that those reactions are all horizontal, aren't they?

Vertical communication would probably work better.  It's always been God's social media.

Only you'd better be prepared to let Him change your heart, and your perspective.  Maybe that's why we don't pray as much as we should.  Deep down inside, we unconsciously forget - or worse, intentionally disbelieve - that His ways are better than ours.

I'm as guilty of that as anybody.  The difference, I know it, and I'm trying to let Him guide me, instead of my own warped self-confidence.  Sometimes I like to think I'm carrying a righteous banner when I pursue an argument, but how much of that really is more personal pride in winning an argument than making sure I'm standing for God's honor?

Remember the Fruit of the Spirit?  Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and self-control.  Not so we become doormats, but so we glorify God in all that we do.  We can get angry out of righteous indignation, but we're still not to sin.  And if sin can be defined as anything that diverts glory from God to ourselves, as well as anything that detracts from God's glory, how might we re-calibrate the ways in which we communicate?  Not only to the unsaved, but also to our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Hot-headedness is considered a virtue by many people.  But it's kinda hard to remain hot-headed while you're praying, isn't it?  When you're talking to God, you realize that all of our battles here on Earth are really His battles.

Battles for which, don't forget, He's already won the victory.  We don't win anything for God.

So how does bickering over battle plans help anything?
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