I have a bit of a morning ritual. After trying to accomplish a new personal triathlon best and my weekly Ezekiel re-memorization, I sit down and open my morning news. It comes daily in a form that I enjoy and trust. The news is up-to-date, explained well, and done so in a non-partisan or agenda-laden manner.
Over the past several months, it seems a trend has emerged in my morning newsfeed. The trend is panic. It seems every day there is a new attack, a new warning from ISIS, a politician said this or didn’t say that. Someone is calling someone else out, and the gloves are coming off. It seems we are held to the edge of our collective seats just waiting for the next shoe to drop, which could be the big one… (runs to dust off Left Behind books).
After I read the news clips, I open my social media feed to discover I’m not the first one to learn about the latest shade of fear. There are already multiple blogs, postings, 140 character quips and opinions staking flags in the ongoing battle of Us vs. Them.
Honestly, my tendency is to want to join them. I feel pressure to turn my gut reaction into a battlefront on a hill I am ready to die on.
Why is this? Why is our immediate draw towards a certain side of political or social rhetoric? Why are we quick to judge, slow to learn, and prone to spill out the words from our mouths (or fingertips) before they have had time to rest in a heart of prayer or even a moderate application of research and rational thought?
I find this particularly troubling as a Christian. As a follower of Christ, I am committed to the Bible as my worldview filter. I am committed to decisions that are not necessarily to my benefit or acclaim, but to the glory of God. Yet when faced with the latest crisis or question, I am so prone to throw in my two cents before I consider the ripples. I want to speak to the world on an issue before the Bible speaks to me.
May I be blunt? Thank you. A lot of people claiming to follow Christ have the waiting ear of websites and articles that are quick to take things out of context, demonize individuals, and even spread false propaganda to coerce a following or rally a base of villagers with pitchforks and torches at hand.
But the Bible continuously reminds us that God is, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6, Num. 14:18, Neh. 9:17, Ps. 86:15, 103:8, 145:8, etc.).
The wise and prudent follower of God is to exercise these same traits.
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” (Prov. 14:29)
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Prov. 16:32)
The book of James exhorts us, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
I am often quicker with my tongue than my ears. I get angry quickly, form opinions based on assumptions, and react more out of conquest for a cause than gospel-transformation through prayer. The Bible says when I do this, I hinder myself from seeing the righteousness of God.
I wonder if you have the same tendency. If you think you might, I would encourage you to try a simple exercise. Scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed as well as your own personal page. Do your posts and the posts of those who are speaking into your life drip with mercy and grace? Are they adamant about applying due diligence and thought to an issue before applying anger or dissention? Is the main theme of each article, post, status, or repost steadfast love and faithfulness?
Or are they filled with strife? Are they hasty to judge and be contentious? Do they rally a cry for prayer or a cry to take up arms?
I am hasty to pull the trigger finger on quick responses and take up arms of contention. But the Gospel didn’t make me that way.
The Gospel makes me quick to remember that I am a sinner. The Gospel makes me quick to think “there but by the grace of God go I.” The Gospel makes me want to treat others as I would want to be treated. The Gospel makes me want to understand truth, apply truth, and stand for truth – even if that takes time.
The Gospel does not urge me to use battle-verses as ammunition. The blood of Christ does not make me quick to call for the blood of others. The Gospel tells me I am part of a sinful world whose only hope is the good news of Jesus Christ.
That’s something worth sharing – and sharing quickly.