Civility. The Impossible Task?
What words would you use to describe the discourse in our nation today? Several years ago I read Os Guinness’ book, The Case for Civility. With these words,he paints the reason we need a return to civility. “Name-calling, insult, ridicule, guilt by association, caricature, innuendo, accusation, denunciation, negative ads, and deceptive and manipulative videos have replaced deliberation and debate. Neither side talks to the other side, only about them.”
As Christ followers, we have the opportunity to speak into the conversation in a different way, with politeness and respect saturated with the grace and mercy of our God. Our words matter. How we use our words matter. The tone of our words matter.
Jesus wasn’t immune from attacks of people who didn’t agree with Him, embrace His values, or like the direction He was leading others. Jesus never backed away from what He believed but He sure didn’t use name-calling, insult, and all the rest to get His point across to belittle or destroy His opponent. His words brought life, healing, comfort, and salvation. What do our words bring?
We know we live in a broken world. There are serious issues that need constructive solutions. God reminds us that we are to be citizens who pray for our leaders. Let’s also remember that we have a citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
Are we not to be a light that dispels the darkness of hatred, prejudice, and fear? But a blinding light can prevent the very thing we desire. Are we not to be salt that preserves and adds flavor? Being too salty causes people to spew us out. Is not the gospel the power of God that redeems us from our sin, restores relationships, and renovates our hearts and minds? We are not the power, only the instruments that God can use. But we are only useable when we humbly submit ourselves to the One who has the power.
In Jesus, I see a leader who was winsome. People were drawn to Him. He practiced a compassionate civility using wisdom and great self-control. Let’s do the same. Our world needs it.
Check out The Case for Civility And Why Our Future Depends on It by Os Guinness