Social Media is not good bedtime reading. With the glowing screen illuminating my face, I am privy to the fun and thoughts of my friends and ‘friends’, my followers and followed. I catch up and catch on to the trending world of opinion, supported and not supported (“It’s my opinion so it doesn’t actually have to be based in fact”, Yep, actual quote).
But the longer and further I read I start to see the themes in other people’s lives. Their political/vaccination/parenting/environmental/theological leanings are offered up. I can see, in those people whose stories I know, how each theme seems to weave a tapestry of what is going on in their lives at that moment. That mom who’s feeling over tired and attacked for her parenting choices. That friend whose political world has just been rocked. That person who reads uplifting words first thing in the morning to allow them to see hope in another day.
And then this encounters my own life experiences and insecurities and tempers and blood can boil. We seem to focus on other people’s ‘stupidity’ because it encounters our own ‘wisdom’.
We start to see people as their 140-500 character snippits rather than the person behind the post.
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Titus 3:1-2
It’s difficult to take the high road when you think someone else’s opinion or reasoning is stupid. And we would never say that we think they’re stupid, but at 12:30am in front of the glowing screen, we probably think a lot of uncharitable things.
Because it’s easy to lose the person with a screen between you.
Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—
When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:3-7
In the midst of the clash of opinions it’s difficult for me to remember that there are gaps in my wisdom and that my sense of goodness shouldn’t be measured in comparison to others.
It’s only through the grace and mercy of Christ that I’ve gotten this far. And this far is a person in progress.
God calls us to look at other people and live in community with them, seeing them as loved and created by him. And this means sometimes putting up with other people’s opinions as they put up with ours. In Titus 3:1-2 above, I think God is reminding us that other people aren’t going to say or behave the way we think they should. We’re to love and respect them anyway.
Yep, even in the midst of the stupid, love needs to be our guiding factor. No matter the situation we’re supposed to enter in with kind words, peace, and consideration, and a healthy dose of “I don’t have the answers to every issue on earth”.
And why and how are we possibly supposed to do this?
Because we’re only where we are because of the mercy of Christ. He saw us in our stupid and disobedient and destructive state and he saved us.
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
And how we love and interact with other people needs to be subject at all times to the knowledge of that mercy.
And hopefully in my own life there will be less stupid and more patience. More seeing people than their words on the screen.