We’ve all noticed how hateful and angry the world seems lately. One look at social media or the 24-hour stream of slanted corporate news media gives us a heavy dose of angry confrontation.
Controversy sells, and advertisers reap the benefits. The art of agreeing to disagree has devolved into a mutual disgust that leaves many unable to speak civilly. Emotions quickly rage out-of-control and friendly debate cannot exist in that environment.
A kingdom divided against itself cannot survive, and a house divided against itself will crumble (Mark 3:24, 25). America is increasingly divided against itself, and this is threatening our communities and families.
The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians in Rome to “outdo one another in showing honor” (NRSV) or, “Honor one another above yourselves” (NIV) (Romans 12:10b).
The word honor is translated from the Greek tee-may’, literally meaning value, esteem, dignity. Perhaps a large part of the problems in our current society are related to a lack of value or esteem for each other.
Social media has made it easy to bash one another without looking the other in the eye. The constant bantering between the sensationalized talking-heads-in-the-box has set an example for the rest of us to banter with each other, even to the point of hatefulness.
We seem to have forgotten how to talk to one another. Remember when we could disagree about something, talk it over, and still be friends, even if we didn’t agree in the end?
Remember when it didn’t matter who won a disagreement, as long as we remained friends?
Shortly before His arrest and execution, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another in the same way that I have loved you.” (John 13:35). Having loved what was His own, he loved them all the way to death (John 1:1-14).
Many of us will remember the movie, Pay it Forward. May I be so bold as to offer you a challenge? Can we agree to compete in one thing? Let’s try to outdo each other in showing love and honor to our family members, neighbors, and strangers, even before they do the same to us.
Someone has to start paying it forward. Competition can be healthy, and competing to be more respectful and mutually supportive can heal us and our world.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, NRSV).
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.