|Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”
Our Bible verse for today: “(Be) ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect.”
1 Peter 3:15-16 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “This is the way of Jesus”
I have chosen 1 Peter 3:15-16 as our verse for today (even though I have already used it once this month), for two reasons. First, it’s an important verse with respect to changing the tone of the conversation in our national dialogue. But second, it’s the verse upon which I have based my upcoming new book “Getting Along without Going Along”, and this morning I want to share an excerpt from that book with you.
We live in an increasingly polarized society filled with people who passionately disagree on important cultural issues. The rhetoric with which the opposing positions are advocated and defended is often hot and caustic. How can we as Christians be faithful to Peter’s directive to faithfully contend for Biblical truth, but do so in a reasoned and respectful manner? How do we avoid getting caught-up in the pulpit-pounding, finger-pointing, overheated and often exaggerated rhetoric flying in both directions?
A few years ago I attended a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The theme of the conference was “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” There were more than two thousand church leaders in attendance from forty-eight states and five countries.
As you might expect, the subject that dominated a large part of the conversation was the issue of what is commonly referred to as “The Gay and Lesbian Agenda.” There was much discussion about the changing cultural landscape in our society with respect to sexual ethics, as well as the impact those changes are having on our society in general, and on religious liberty in particular.
What impressed me most about the conference was the tone set by the leaders and attendees. There were no fire-breathing, pulpit-pounding, hell-fire and brimstone sermons. There were no angry denunciations and finger-pointing accusations, and there were no hysterical chicken-little types running around crying about the sky falling. Instead the atmosphere was calm, respectful, and even upbeat. The conversation was kind, reasoned, and intellectual. That was especially significant considering that people on all sides of the issue had been invited to attend and participate. There were conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, straights and gays. The Gay and Lesbian community had been invited to send representatives to participate, and they did.
Everyone from all camps and from all sides treated each other with respect and kindness. As a result, it was a pleasant and productive conference.
Offering a Biblical response, kindly and respectfully, is what Peter was referring to in 1 Peter 3:15-16. We as followers of Jesus must know what we believe and why we believe it. We must be willing – even eager – to speak-up for Biblical values, but we are to do so in a reasoned and respectful way.
This is the way of Jesus. In the Gospels the only time we see Jesus angry or using strong and even harsh language was when He was dealing with religious hypocrites. With all others His speech and His manner were kind and compassionate – often bold and direct, but kind and compassionate. This is the tone we also must strive for as we interact with others in our society about divisive and potentially emotional, hot-button social issues.