I don’t mean to alarm you, but people are wrong about things you care about deeply. Some are on Facebook. Some watch different news channels. Lately, we can’t all just get along.
We could take the opportunity to lament social media or the news that gets it wrong but it’s been done. It hasn’t helped. The real problem isn’t that someone on the internet is wrong. The problem is that we seem to think being wrong makes someone unworthy of love and compassion. This week it’s guns. New topic. Same venom. New song. Same dance.
I don’t know what, specifically, to do about guns, or even the people that turn them on children. I wish I did. I know what happened is evil and I want it to stop. I want it to never happen again. I know that everyone else wants the same thing. We all want the same thing so much that anyone who’s wrong about how to accomplish it seems to get grouped in with the enemy. On both sides. Read a few comment sections. How quickly does it turn from helping the helpless into winning an argument against the enemy?
Us vs. them. We actually assign bad motives to differences in opinion. I’ve read the “we’re for freedom to protect the free, and you must be for tyranny” posts. I’ve heard the “We’re for safety, and you must think dead kids are less important than the right to bump stocks” lecture. Neither are fair. But it isn’t about fair anymore. It’s about winning now.
We make this thing someone’s wrong about into their whole identity and then hate them for it. Call them a lib or a racist or a bigot. One dimensional enemies are the easiest to attack. There’s no nuance, so just dismiss them entirely. They are no better than their worst opinion. Why bother to see what they mean or where they’re coming from? Then get really hurt when it happens to you too. After all, if people really loved you, they’d agree with you all the time, right?
This isn’t about letting go of the issues and playing nice. We ought to fight for what’s important. We ought to strive to see our neighbors, especially the least of these, cared for.
Christianity isn’t actually a call to be kind and get along with people. Love isn’t an affirmation of sin, but a sacrifice to forgive it. Christianity isn’t a call to turn the other cheek and ignore wrong, but to see sin as already punished, and enemies as those already reconciled to God.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)
Christianity is the hope to be close to the cross of Christ, where He suffered for sinners. We turn the other cheek because we’d rather suffer for sinners than call down wrath upon them. Christianity is the trust that because Christ rose from the dead, we’re actually made holy by His sacrifice for us. We’re not known by our sins, but by our savior.
Jesus didn’t die for those who were on the right side of the argument. He died for enemies. The wicked and the unbelievers. The sinners. You, and whoever you’re arguing with both. Jesus even loves you when you’re wrong. So much that He doesn’t dangle salvation to one political party or another, but to every last sinner in the world. To the victims and the monsters, to the right and to the wrong. We were all enemies of God, reconciled by His death, and united in His mercy. He calls us to love, not by ignoring sin, but by forgiving it and striving to help each other as we were first helped.
This lets us look deeper than the sins, anger, and pain on the surface. Christ did. He saw you as worthy of love even when you were an enemy of God. Your sin merited death. So He died for you. You’re holy now. Not by your works, but by His sacrifice.
Hold two ideas in your head at the same time. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong, but Jesus died even for people on the wrong side of your argument. You aren’t a Christian by being right about guns, but by being forgiven. The people you’re arguing with can be wrong and worthy of love and compassion, even when we can’t find a common solution to a problem.
We’ve got a lot to figure out. There is a right answer, even if I don’t know it. We need to do something. Just keep in mind it isn’t to win an argument. The other side isn’t the enemy, death is. But Christ has conquered even that.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)