This guest blog was what was intended for posting last Saturday, June 13, 2020, but was delayed because of WordPress’s frustratingly opaque system of sites added on top of each other that resulted in my losing control of THIS site when I deleted ‘dummy sites’ on which I was trying to practice. Talk about an object lesson! So I need to read this over a few times to relearn its lessons that Ms. Laura presents.
The context for this blog is the current outrage in our nation, the intention to “defund the police” in various cities and threats of violence to resolve the tragic murder by police officers of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. This is compounded by the tension that has been building up under “stay-at-home” orders from the Wuhan Virus restrictions that have messed up so many incomes and family structures.
Laura H. calls us to rediscover the aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24)
by Laura H. of Christar; https://www.christar.org/
Our world is angry, fed up and disgusted about so much right now. It aches for renewal and restoration. Everyone’s got an opinion on everything. On social media, we scream at each other and into echo chambers, furious about racial injustice, police brutality, wearing masks, not wearing masks, economic relief, overcoming the pandemic, all while we wade through a political madness thick with derision.
These things must matter to us who follow Christ. I want you to care and fight for what is right. I want you to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. But, pick a current event and you and I will certainly find something we disagree about.
Let’s complicate matters and layer our global and national turmoil onto our personal piles of struggle. What cracks in your peace become harsh footholds for erosion and brokenness to take hold? For me, it’s my depression, my stress about my café surviving a pandemic, my deep sadness about my family’s current grief, my unfulfilled career goals. What is keeping you up at night that has little to do with the rest of the world’s issues: your panic attacks, your financial worry, your unfulfilled dreams, your craving for approval?
Under all of this, how can you and I demonstrate gentleness in this world? How can we humbly co-exist with differing viewpoints? Even within our churches and mission organizations, how do we settle on an agreement to keep from arguing with each other because our theology differs? Is it even possible?
If you, my African-American sister in Christ, do not sense that I care about your black life, will you ever feel comfortable serving beside me? If you see no point in wearing masks, but I do, will I not resent you for your ignorance and won’t you in turn resent me for my naiveté? If, in five years, you, a Republican, find yourself on the field on the same team with me, a Democrat, will we irritate each other?
Life on the field has just as much conflict and dissension. If our societal and personal conflicts continue to muddle the waters of our teams and our relationships, how can we ever move past pain and distrust on the field? And if we can’t do that, how will we show the world what reconciliation even is? And if we aren’t willing to humbly reduce our tendencies to badger one another, reducing His message of hope to screaming our truth and retreating to our like-minded safety nets, how will Christ’s name be glorified? But it is also not enough to plug our ears and do nothing. So what can we do?
There are a million steps to get to a place in life where these questions reach resolution, but gentleness, manifested as a humble, uninhibited effort toward “bearing with one another” (Ephesians 4:2), is a good place to start.
Gentleness shows up in a heart-felt apology when you realize you have wronged a sibling, a boss or a teammate.
It is in the patience for a neighbor who puts up political signs you plan to vote against.
It shows up in a peaceful protest for justice.
It is asking grieving friends how you can help, sitting with them as they weep.
It is humbly considering if your worldview needs to be realigned after years of assumptions that you are right and others are wrong.
It is listening more than you talk.
It is speaking up when silence sends the wrong message.
We feel the heaviness of our world. So does our Lord. During His years on this earth, Jesus was tired. He was grieved. He was moved with compassion. He wept. It is right to wrestle with the weightiness of a world awaiting renewal as we prepare for cross-cultural ministry right here, right now. We are permitted to struggle as we work to reconcile our view of the world with a life modeling Christ. Jesus was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). He is the calm, the peace and the rest for the weary.
As you reflect on all the heavy issues our world and nation are working through, humbly allow God to help you grow in your ability to approach and respond to hard situations with gentleness.