Written by: Caroline Davis
You’d have to be living under a rock to avoid the onslaught of strong opinions regarding many topics surrounding COVID-19 today. Don’t get me wrong, I am a person of VERY strong conviction. When I believe in something and it aligns with my Christian faith, only the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudging is going to change my mind if my perspective is wrong – as it has been before. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” It is you and I that are evolving and growing in our understanding of His truths.
Ravi Zacharias, an evangelist, and defender of the Christian faith, recently went to be with the Lord. I greatly admire this man for how unbelievably smart and prepared he was to defend his faith. Mostly, however, I admired his ability to share the truth with those who so vehemently disagreed with him, in such humility, that it leaves an undeniable representation of the heart of Jesus Christ.
Ravi explained during an interview, “The tone is often set by the one who claims to be a follower of Christ. You… set the tone when you [speak] and they [are] just reciprocating and responding to the tone that you set… This is the lost art of true dialogue in our time and we have lost civility because nobody is there to set the tone anymore and say ‘let us talk in the terms that I think we need to understand with each other.’ If you start off with a polemical stance and an ‘I know better than you stance,’ and ‘you have no idea what you’re talking about’ approach, then you will get that kind of response from the other person. Conversation with dignity and respect is indispensable to effective evangelism. And when people turn against evangelism, often it’s not the message, it’s the messenger that has misused an approach, and the recipient just finds the message unattractive because of the manner in which it has been delivered.”
How we say something is sometimes much more critical than what we’re actually saying. We all come from different perspectives, even within the body of Christ. Our life experiences and environment shape us each uniquely. It is okay if we don’t see everything the same way! There are many people in my life whom I love and respect greatly, and we disagree on many topics– yes even how to handle this reopening of America during a worldwide pandemic. It’s far more important to value the person with whom you are conversing than it is to “win” in an argument.
My challenge to us today is to pause for a moment and check our motives before we share our opinions. Please do share your perspective! Now is not the time to be silent. You don’t have to condone or agree with another’s perspective. Just be sure to communicate in a way that reflects the value of the other person. Take time to truly listen and hear their perspective, and know it is okay to walk away and disagree, knowing that you have represented the heart of Jesus Christ in your tone and verbiage. I would love for us as a culture to relearn “the art of true dialogue,” knowing as followers of Christ that we can set the tone for a hard conversation in a way that truly honors a person that we might not even like or respect, but honoring them in a way that communicates they too are made in the image of God.
Galatians 5:13 – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.