Racism. Patriotism. Football. Protests. Christianity. Maybe by now, you’re all tired of the rhetoric. Some of it has been unkind, some unreasonable, and some just coarse… But I hope that you will find the brief thoughts below to be none of those things, and actually helpful. Please consider:
I am a Christian First and a Patriot Second. I long for the day when God’s people can be as moved and vocal about Jesus as they can be about the country they love. Are we as upset and vocal when the institutions and doctrines of God are disrespected as we are when our nation’s institutions are disrespected? Are we as willing to speak in defense of the cross and God’s teachings as we are in defense of the flag? Friends, love your country, but don’t forget your citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)!
Freedom of Speech Must Be Tempered with Respect. I am thankful for the “freedom of speech” protected by the 1st Amendment. But I must keep in mind that this great freedom must be tempered with respect. For instance, I am opposed to the practice of homosexuality, but I will not join myself to groups who share that view, when they seek to share that view in a disrespectful way, such as at a funeral. This is disrespectful. Make sure you don’t negate your valid message by expressing it in a disrespectful way. Freedom of speech doesn’t license us to disrespect others. How and where we exercise this freedom is important (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3; Matthew 7:12).
Acknowledge the Plight of the Oppressed. We must lose the “get over it already” attitude some possess. Oppression, injustice, inequality, and discrimination still exist in our country, and to act as if they don’t, because they don’t happen to you, is ungodly. Godliness lifts the burden from the oppressed, rights the wrongs, and treats all men equally (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8; Psalm 82:3-4; Matthew 23:23).
Love Those with Whom You Disagree. Allow people to disagree with you without expressing bitterness and malice. In fact, go a step further and open your mind to other perspectives. Not everything in life is a “heaven or hell” proposition. In matters of judgment, we have the right to hold and express differing opinions. When you hear those dissenting voices on matters of judgment, make sure you love the person expressing their dissent more than you love your opinion (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 9:22). -Steve Higginbotham, Knoxville, TN