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Stop typing and start talking

Young writer says we need dialogue — not angry words on Facebook — in this age of tension.

“To the churches of the United States: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to remind you that you are one body through Christ and are united through the Spirit. In saying this, you need to get over yourselves and talk to each other face-to-face (not on Facebook) about politics.”

Elise Miller | ViewsIf Paul were to write a letter to the church today, I think it might read like that.

The church is divided, though few of us talk about it. We shove it under the pew, listen to the sermon and move on. We ignore a major stumbling block that we need to address.

It’s not easy to be a Christian in this intense political atmosphere — especially when you know that your political views may be polar opposite from your brothers and sisters in Christ. Disagreements are inevitable, but they shouldn’t keep us from being transparent with one another and having the relationship that God intended for members of the church to have.

While it is easy to say that we, as Christians, put our faith in God before our allegiance to America, the political debates in which we engage — and our social media accounts — suggest otherwise. The phrase “conservative Christian” itself puts political ideology before religious identity. This is unfortunate, as Christians could be spending their time combatting the intense climate of this political season rather than adding to it.

There are so many other things that should capture our attention and prayers right now. Christians suffer in the Middle East. ISIS and other terrorist groups commit atrocities. Here at home there’s racial tension. Children are separated from their parents. Drug addiction destroys lives. Souls are lost.

Yet we bicker about a politician’s email or a real estate mogul’s tax returns. Or we complain that neither is addressing the real issues.
‘While I admire people of faith who proclaim the truth about God’s Word on Sundays, I am disappointed when I see them post hateful things on social media.’
We are the issue. Our obsession with things that don’t matter has taken our minds away from God’s call to seek and save the lost. The demeaning rhetoric used by many Christians about other souls — including political candidates, protesters and those practicing different religions — drives people away from us.

In Matthew 15:8-11 Jesus says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

While I admire people of faith who proclaim the truth about God’s Word on Sundays, I am disappointed when I see them post hateful things on social media.

Do we apply God’s commands equally when we take stances on the issues that divide us politically? We oppose abortion because of the sanctity of human life while we rail against any attempts to limit our access to firearms. What about the lives of victims of gun violence? We preach about love and unity, but have we tied our faith to a particular political stance?

In John 16:12-14, Jesus tells us, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

We need to talk with one another — and talk to those with whom we disagree — to find understanding.

This should not be an “I’m right, you’re wrong” kind of conversation. If we listen and understand, this dialogue has the power to mend churches and make us into the family that God envisions.
‘We need to talk with one another — and talk to those with whom we disagree — to find understanding.’
Soon, all of the sound bites, advertisements and endless chatter of this political season will vanish.

Let’s not live for the things that will pass, but for the body that will last for an eternity.

ELISE MILLER is a senior at Plano East High School in Texas. She worships with the Waterview Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. Though she isn’t old enough to vote on Nov. 8, she’s an avid follower of news. As editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, she hopes to pursue a career in journalism — and to have a positive, Christian influence on news media.

Filed under: News Extras Views

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