1 Corinthians 16:14
Once again, we come to something that is easier said than done!
All we need to do is look around our world and we can see that it is filled with contention, anger and just plain old hatred!
While nations, politicians and religions may struggle with each other and a large scale, the advent of Social Media has made these conflicts so much more personal: many use the illusion of anonymity provided by the internet to not just to speak their minds, but also tear apart those who do not agree with them! It seems like “compromise” has become a dirty word as more and more our culture seems to see only in terms of right or wrong and God help those who disagree with what we believe to be RIGHT!
On Facebook and other sites it is referred to as ‘trolling’ when it is done by grown-ups, and ‘cyber-bullying’ when done by kids; and most of us have probably had to deal with this unpleasant side of the on-line world, sometimes because of our children and sometimes it is we have to face the results of our own behavior!
Sadly none of us are perfect, and if we do not pay attention to our ‘enthusiasm’ (i.e. temper) we can fall-short of our own ideals and of the call of Christ to love one another, and instead can find ourselves jumping into the fray of contention, either on-line, on the road or face to face.
Our kids can be even more vulnerable to this temptation to lash out at each other; often taking what happens in school or at the playground onto the internet. Kids can be very cruel to each other in person but even worse on-line. My daughter has been both the recipient and instigator of problems on Social Media, and while I hate seeing her be victimized, it breaks my heart when I see that she was being a bully herself!
So what are we to do in the face of such conflict…how can we teach our children to follow the call of Christ to love one another when we struggle with this ourselves…when contention has practically become a sport?
Well first of all, we can give ourselves a break for our own failings, and not let these hold us back…as while we are called to follow Christ, we are not expected to follow him perfectly, instead our call is to do the best we can to practice love in all that we do, this includes showing restraint of tongue and pen (and keyboard) when we are feeling angry and upset…and remembering that we are all in this world together, all sharing the same planet, and are well-loved children of God!
And here is our good news in the face of so much negativity…that we ARE all in this together, that no matter what ‘side of the aisle’ we are on, what we believe, or where we live on this planet, we all have certain things in common: we all have hopes, dreams and fears, we all want the best for our loved ones and ourselves…even if we do not always agree on what these things are!
As Christians, we are called to a ministry of reconciliation, as God’s love can speak to all these things we have in common, and bring us together in a spirit of acceptance in spite of whatever differences we may have, as we all seek a better world to leave to our children!
Of course, this is not easy, as not everyone wants to play nice…but peace and reconciliation is needed in our world, and has to begin somewhere, so why not with us…as we practice doing all in love, as we share the healing ministry of Christ in the midst of our broken world?
What a better gift to give our children than to teach them how to follow Christ by treating others with compassion, seeking understanding rather than discord, and showing love in the face of hate?
Through our example we can show them a different way to handle difficult situations and people, we can show them how to work together to make our world a better place, rather than stir up contention which will only pull us further apart; as we can only face the great challenges of our lives and the world, by working together…sharing the light of Christ with each other, until this light is bright enough to fill our whole world with God’s love!
Let us Pray:
God, help us to do all we do in love…or at least in the spirit of your love for us. Let us forgive ourselves and others when we fall short, just as you have forgiven us. Help us speak love in the face of hate, reconciliation in the face of contention, and acceptance in the midst of a world that often seems to want to keep us apart. Thank you for making us all a part of your family and let us remember that we are all in this together before we lash out in justifiable anger. Help us to share the sparks of our faith with our children and with each other until they become a fire large enough to devour the darkness of our world.