Dial it back and tone it down

Good morning everyone,
Our theme for this month: “How to inhabit time”
Our Bible verse for today: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Dial it back and tone it down”
The other day I began reading a book that was given to me as a gift. The title is “Choose Life: Answering Key Claims of Abortion Defenders with Compassion”. It’s a compilation of twenty essays written by Christian professionals from across the spectrum of the pro-life movement. It provides good answers to the claims made by defenders of abortion, but the answers are delivered in a kind, compassionate, and respectful manner. The book was compiled and edited by two professors, one of which was Dr. John Goodrich, a professor of New Testament at Moody Bible Institute, who is the nephew of a good friend and church member of mine.
I once wrote a similar book and for a similar reason. The title was “Getting Along without Going Along: Biblical Sexual Ethics in an Age of Controversy and Conflict”. The concept was the same – to provide good answers to tough questions regarding sexual ethics, but to do so in a kind and respectful way, rather than with harsh and overheated rhetoric.
I read a statement recently where an author declared, “The greatest moral crisis of our time is not sexual immorality, but vindictiveness.” His point was that many of us have become scathing in our assessment of everyone on the other side in the culture wars, and our rhetoric drips with scorn, combativeness, and yes, vindictiveness. Much of the rhetoric coming out of the Christian community these days with regard to political, social, and cultural opponents is harsh and mean, as well as caustic and sometimes mocking. And far too many Christians giggle and snicker when they hear it, rather than being saddened or distressed by it.
Jesus called His followers to be peacemakers. On the one hand, He did teach us to stand firmly and boldly for the truth; and we are to promote Biblical principles in word and deed. We are also to fearlessly be His witnesses even in the most hostile of situations. And yes, it’s also true that the world around us is often unkind and mean – many of the comments made about us and directed at us are overheated, cruel, and false. But still, we’re not to respond to them by being like them.
That was Jesus’ point.  In Matthew 5:9, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called His people to be peacemakers. In 1 Peter 3:15-16 Peter counseled us, “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. But do this with gentleness and respect …”
Fortunately, many Christian leaders, speakers, and authors today are issuing the call for Christians to conduct themselves in a more civil and Biblical manner with respect to what they say and how they say it. There is an increasing flow of sermons, Bible studies, podcasts, books, and articles urging Christians to dial it back and tone it down. Your anger, bitterness, and scathing scorn isn’t going to win anyone to faith in Christ, nor is it likely to do much to further the cause of Christ on earth. But a kind and respectful response just might.
I encourage all of us to be the peacemakers Jesus called us to be. It takes more strength and spiritual maturity to respond firmly, but with reason and respect, than it does to let your emotions drive your angry rhetoric. Try it. Dial it back and tone it down a bit.
God bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2023 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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