I just love Costco It's one of my favorite places to shop. I also hate it. Costco is the best place to go if I want to end up buying things I didn't know I needed. A few extras at Costco can quickly add up to more than few dollars if you know what I mean.
Social media generates the same mixed emotions. It's the fastest way to get the word out about something important to me. It's also a fast and easy way to fill my mind with ideas, issues, things and details of strangers lives I didn't intend to know about. It drives me me crazy when I think to myself, "I'll just quickly scroll/browse for 2 minutes" only to spend an excessive amount of time reading opinions and articles I didn't intend to spend valuable time or mind space on. It's far too easy to get pulled in.
Don't get me wrong, I love to learn. There is a lot of useful and thought provoking information out there that I have stumbled upon that has encouraged, challenged or caused growth in me. In the past, I had to intentionally seek out information I wanted or needed. Now there is an overload of information that falls into my virtual lap that I spend much time sifting through. The challenge now is not access to information, it's filtering through more information than I need.
In the past few months especially, I've happened upon many posts laced with opinions about politicians, political issues, Christian authors, Christian books, foreign policy, and other public issues. Thanks to social media, I know a lot more about a lot more people than I used to or probably needed to. I could probably tell you the political stance, preferred church tradition, and which side of the religious and political spectrum many friends and acquaintances fall on.
While I am interested to know some things, I've noticed that with information being so readily shared, I'm very aware of differences, more so than the things that make us the same.
At times, I'm tempted to weigh in. I do have opinions and it's quite easy to boldly declare them from behind the safety of a computer screen when you're directing them "out there" rather than to the eyes and ears of an actual person. When I read a post with all kinds of CAPITAL LETTERS and excessive punctuation ( !!!!!!!) I wonder, do we type and speak face to face with the same gusto? Probably not.
With how easily and readily information can be exchanged nowadays, secondary issues and opinions can quickly become hills we die on. Perhaps die is too strong a word, but these do become hills we divide on.
There is nothing wrong with differences. God and His kingdom are plenty big for differences of opinion and preference on non-major issues. There is also nothing wrong with feeling strongly or passionate about any one of these things. James Macdonald said it wisely, "On the majors, actions. On the minors acceptance. In ALL things LOVE."
I want to challenge myself and you if you're up for it. The next time you have the desire to get out your virtual or actual megaphone and boldly declare your opinions to the world or to someone specific, pause, just for a second, and remember a few things:
1) You have something in common with the person you're disagreeing with.
This is someone I have something critically important in common with: Apart from the work of God in my life and theirs, we would both be doomed to eternity separated from God. We were both dead in our transgressions. We were both unable to save ourselves. Hopefully, we are both sinners saved by grace, but in the least, grace is available to both of us. The level ground at the foot at the cross should be enough of a reason to speak the truth in love.
2) In ALL things, love.
I do believe we are meant to challenge one another. We should post thought provoking articles. We should give people food for thought. Iron is meant to sharpen iron. But we can ask questions rather than make over capitalized and over punctuated statements. We can have conversations. We can remember that speaking in kindness doesn't diminish truth, it creates an atmosphere where people care to listen.
3) Choose your hills wisely.
When a person is offended, or rubbed the wrong way, it can forever change the tone of a relationship. I know this because I've been the offender and the offended. Ask yourself this: If in the future, I were sharing the love of Jesus in the message of the gospel with this person, would what I'm about to say cause them to want to listen to me, or run from anything I might have to say? Am I being a bridge or a barrier for the gospel? Are people more or less in touch with the love of Jesus because of my words and actions?
In my humble opinion, there is a hill worth dying on. But often get hung up on the bumps in the road. We get a little trigger happy with our words when there's something we feel excited or fired up about. Lots of times we don't make it to the hill that's worth dying on. We don't get to share about the Someone who is worth laying it all down for because by then, no one wants to listen. There was a hill that Someone died on. I pray that I never let the molehills keep me from going to that hill.
I still shop at Costco. I still love it. If I'm by myself, I still slowly peruse the aisles. But I've learned to make a list and stick to it. When I keep my eyes on the prize, I come out with what we needed and the budget still in tact. I can keep the main thing, the main thing.
Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."