Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where Does Your View Point?

There's an impolite little adage about opinions; it all boils down to everyone's got one and they all stink. In this world, where access to information and misinformation is gained in less time than it takes me to type this sentence, opinions simply come with the territory. And though opinions have not by definition changed, the value we place on them has. Infinitesimal amounts of knowledge at our fingertips, in our vehicles, in our schools, on our televisions, in our watches -- and somehow, we can't stop freaking out because someone approves of gun control, or someone thinks gay marriage should be legal, or someone believes Chris Christie had gastric bypass, or someone loves bacon and fur (probably not together, but you never know). It's really no wonder we as a society are so stressed out! We go to the mat on everything!
My brother and I had some knock down, drag out fights. They usually began with some critical issue like: Felix the Cat vs. General Hospital. I'm serious! We would half kill each other. But we were, like, nine. It is no less ridiculous among "adults" in the world today. People have become so committed to what they believe, or their values, they expect everyone else to see it that way. And that's good, I guess, to want everyone to experience the same certainty or peace of mind, but it just doesn't happen by shoving your opinions down the throats of others. When we long to belong to something -- anything -- it can drive us to make a cause out of everything. But there are so many causes that affect us all; causes we could all be fighting for, together. Instead, we are divided over unwarranted, uninformed, unsolicited, and unprofitable opinions. Blame this on those in charge? After all, our leaders can't seem to get along any better than we do. How about the deterioration of marriages? Mom and Dad's refusal to work together has set a bad example for Mary and Johnny. Maybe it's our competition/ sports-obsessed society. Our we could blame it on injustices that have run so deeply for years, they cannot help but bubble over in even the most unlikely of ways. Some Christians have declared we are receiving God's judgment; or because we have removed Him from government buildings and schools, an essential building block of human relations has been removed and love has become foreign in concept. But even our finger pointing can stem from nothing more than opinion.
Don't get me wrong, causes are important; especially to Christians. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, in their book When Helping Hurts, discuss the folly of those who, without acknowledging Christ serve causes, expecting to bring about the sort of peace and harmony promised in Christ's kingdom. They also write that, for Christians, it's just as foolish to acknowledge Christ without furthering His kingdom by serving causes. Jesus healed the lame, caused the blind to see, served those who were downtrodden and rejected by society. And I am all for doing the same. But spouting off about this or that, pontificating about the ways our society doesn't measure up to God's holy standards, fixating on the problems or the sins without providing solutions or a willingness to work toward change, makes it more about us and less about the great God that put us here to point to Him. In Matthew 6. Jesus talks about fasting, praying, giving to the poor -- all good things, right? Not necessarily. When they are done to draw attention to the fast-er, the pray-er, the giver, not so much. These things are to be done to glorify our Heavenly Father; not as some publicity stunt or self-serving demonstration of man's goodness.
When everyone is fired up about the "hot-button" issues, some times it's best to keep your head down. That's not to say we shouldn't call out a Christian who is downright libelous or inflammatory, but we should use prudence when it comes to tossing in our two cents. That's really more than what most opinions are worth, and it rarely leads to truly intelligent discussion. The Word of God does not skimp on or demur at what it has to say about the tongue, and our words. But the bottom line for Christians is this: it is our purpose and obligation to speak of Jesus. If what we're saying to others isn't pointing them to Jesus, if we are not speaking life to them, what are we saying? To whom are we pointing?

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