Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Sep
28

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

It pains me to see Christians dividing the church over political issues. I am not surprised because this happens every election year. Some Christians adopt a secular apocalyptic narrative that says everyone must vote a certain way or our country is doomed. One would think that because we have heard these false prophets speak the same message election after election and it has yet to come true that we would stop listening to them, but this is not the case. They continue to find plenty of listeners with itching ears. As Christians, the kingdoms of this earth should not be of first concern to us because we are citizens of an everlasting kingdom.

If we are allowing an earthly narrative to cause division within the kingdom of God, then we have our priorities mixed up. Paul does not write to the Philippians to remind them of their Roman citizenship, a prized possession in the ancient world. He writes to remind them that their citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). He does so because many people are going about “with minds set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). He reminds the Philippians that when we set our minds on earthly things our end is destruction, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we have hope in receiving a resurrection like his.

To cause division over a vote is to divide over earthly matters. It is to speak where the Bible has not spoken. There are no commands in the Bible saying a Christian must vote this way or that way. One may try and say a Christian cannot support sin and therefore cannot vote a certain way. I would agree that Christians should not support sin, but what sins are we talking about? Are we talking about adultery, murder, sexual immorality, lying, greed, jealousy, corrupt speech, mistreatment of orphans, mistreatment of foreigners, racism, slander, wrath, etc.? Both major political parties in America have a sin problem. We cannot pick and choose which sins we are ok with and which ones we are not. This is being hypocritical, and not only is it wrong, but it also does great harm to our Christian witness.

The truth is that one day our nation will come to an end just as every nation comes to an end. I hope that day is far off in the future, but it will come. We should do what we can to seek the welfare of the nation in which we live as sojourners and exiles (Jer. 29:7; 1 Pet. 2:11), but we must not let our disagreements on such matters divide us. This is because we belong to a greater kingdom. We are citizens of a kingdom that will never be destroyed. Our allegiance to this kingdom is of far greater importance than where we may reside on earth. Why would we even entertain the idea of allowing a temporal disagreement to stand in the way of our eternal destiny?

There is only one apocalypse, and its message is clear. Jesus wins! The kingdoms of this world will continue to disappoint. Jesus does not disappoint! The kingdoms of this world will continue to cause division. Jesus unites! He is lord of Lords and king of Kings, and we are Jesus followers. We wear the name of Christ. Let us act accordingly. Let us not divide over an election that means very little in the grand scheme of things, but instead, let us bear witness to the eternal kingdom of God in which we are citizens.

Sep
21

We are a staunchly divided nation. One of the reasons we find ourselves in the situation we are now in is because we have abandoned fairness and decency in the public square. Being a public servant is no longer about doing what is right. Long gone are the days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Politics is all about power, and this means there is no room for fairness and decency. Simple Biblical principles have been abandoned.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Politicians cannot follow the same rules. They create rules and break rules as they please. They do whatever benefits their side. There is no concern for the other. There is no concern for treating other people the way they want to be treated. All that matters is power and winning.

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)

The words of politicians are meaningless. They say one thing one day and something different the next. It doesn’t even matter if it was recorded or caught on tape. Politicians use words to benefit them in the moment. Words are twisted. Lies are told. Wrongs are rationalized or excused. Anything is on the table as long as it benefits the politician.

“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:25-26)

Jesus warned that Christians are not to seek power as worldly people do, but are instead to serve one another. What is happening in politics is often what Christians are not to do. We are to live sacrificially. We are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Politics is the opposite of this. It is the pursuit of power.

So what? We are not politicians, so why do we have to worry about what politicians do? We may not be politicians but when we interject ourselves into politics, we often find ourselves supporting and encouraging this behavior. We start believing the rules should favor our side and not the other. We are ok with politicians using words however they please to get whatever they want. We’re fine with the pursuit of power as long as our side wins. If we approve of improper behavior among politicians, how long before we accept it in our own lives and communities? How long before our children begin to embrace these behaviors that we support? Our support is not harmless.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 21)

The Bible is clear about what we must do. We must do what is good. We must do what is right. We must do what is fair. We must tell the truth. We must do this even if it puts us at a disadvantage. We must do it even if it means we lose something for which we are striving. The greater loss would be to lose our morals, our reputation, or even our soul.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Sep
15

We are living in what Charles Taylor calls a secular age. Many of the changes that have caused us to arrive at this point have happened slowly over 500 years. We often do not realize the extent to which we have embraced the secular. It is in the air we breathe. It is everywhere. We are secular, and we don’t even know it. Churches and spiritual institutions are not immune to these changes. One of the problems we face is that seekers who are searching for the sacred will be turned off by churches that have embraced the secular. We must take a step back and consider what it means to be religious in a secular age. Here are five things Christians should be doing to survive in a secular age.

Abstain From Politics – 24-hour news networks and talk radio are not spiritually healthy, and they are hurting the church. It is sad when Christians talk more about politics than Jesus. It is disheartening that Christians are more apt to share their political views on social media than their faith. Even at church, many people would rather talk about politics than the text that was read in worship or the sermon. We need to turn off the 24-hour news networks. We need to stop listening to talk radio. We need to unfollow politics on social media, and we need to focus on Jesus. If you want to be informed, then read a newspaper. Limit your news intake to no more than 30 minutes a day. Vote if you want to participate in elections, but don’t be consumed by politics. We are not reaching our communities with the good news about Jesus because they are not hearing or seeing good news from us. They are hearing and seeing politics.

Follow the Sermon on the Mount – We are living in a polarized society where violence is common. Christians are to be set apart. We are to be different from the world around us. We do this by following the Sermon on the Mount. We need to read it regularly and do what it says. Don’t explain it away. Don’t make excuses. We need to live out the instructions found in Matthew 5-7. We are citizens of the kingdom of God, and this should be evident in how we live and act. We must refrain from worldly responses to division. It is time that we take Jesus seriously and do what he says.

Embrace the Sacred – Without knowing it, churches have embraced the secular. We have adopted secular calendars. We have doubted the miraculous. We have neglected prayer. We have made worship about emotional music and a motivational speech. In many ways, churches are no different than secular groups and institutions. It is time that we reclaim the sacred. We need to acknowledge God is at work. We need to devote ourselves to prayer. We need to recognize worship is an encounter with God. We need to be formed by what is sacred, not by what is secular.

Proclaim the Gospel – What message are we proclaiming? We are sending messages all the time, what are they? People are not going to believe the good news about Jesus if they never hear us talk about it. They are not going to believe our lives have changed if they do not see it. Too often, the message we are proclaiming is one about politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, etc. There are people all around us who are interested in spiritual matters, but they will never ask us if we are too busy proclaiming a secular message. If all people hear us talk about is politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, etc., then they will assume this is how we make sense of life. We don’t have to become street preachers, but people need to hear spiritual talk from us. We need to be sending the message that God matters.

Be Committed to Community – One hour on Sunday will not cut it in a secular age. We need one another. We need relationships. We need friendships. The early church was committed to community (Acts 2:42-47), and we need to follow their lead. People are searching for true community. They are not interested in joining another social club. If the institutionalized church cannot achieve this, then other options may need to be examined. House churches and small groups may provide the answers. Every member is important. Every member needs to be contributing to the work of the church. Showing up and checking out is not an option. Without true Christian community, congregations will die in a secular age.

Sep
11

“The vast majority of pastors with whom our team communicates are saying they are considering quitting their churches. It’s a trend I have not seen in my lifetime. Some are just weeks away from making an announcement.” – Thom Rainer

We Are Dividing Over Masks – Let that sink in. What is keeping people from worship? It is not persecution. It is not the threat of death. It is a little piece of cloth that might have to be worn for an hour or less. Jesus died on a cross for us, and 2,000 years later we are going to argue about masks. Ministers have devoted their lives to the church, and people are leaving church because of masks.

Ministery Carries Little or No Influence – In times past, ministers were respected. Ministry was an honorable position. What a minister said mattered. Things have changed. The ministers I know are not looking for more respect, but they do want to have some influence so that they can help change lives. The words of a minister do not carry the weight they once did. They are regularly ignored or challenged. If the minister says something I do not like, then I can find a pundit, social commentator, or another minister who I do not know who offers an alternative perspective. Voices are plentiful, and this means we can always find someone else who agrees with what we already believe. It is difficult for ministers to help when their influence is being minimized.

Formation is Not Happening at Church – Ministers want to help people become like Jesus. Formation takes time. It will not happen if people only give one hour a week to church or church-related activities. People are always being formed. We are formed by whatever it is we are devoting our time and attention to. Many ministers realize they are fighting a losing battle. People are being formed by politics, sports, video games, social media, Netflix, etc. There is more formation going on outside of the church than within it.

Individualism Reigns – Church leaders often find themselves in a no-win situation. When a controversy arises, people make up their minds and do not budge. Decisions are made individually, not communally. What is best for the community is rarely considered. Decisions are based on personal rights, personal desires, personal needs, etc. Churches are comprised of individuals who cling to their personal decisions and are ready to jump ship whenever they are challenged. Submission is not practiced because the only one we are willing to submit to is ourselves.

Politics – Ministers dread election years because they know what is coming. Lies will be shared. Sins will be excused. Bad behavior will be defended. Good behavior will be ignored if it comes from the other side. It is a moral and ethical nightmare. In election years, the hope of the nation is placed in what happens in November, not in Jesus Christ. Many ministers wonder if what they have been doing matters. Why continue on if it can all be so easily disregarded because of an election?

What can you do for your minister?

Pray for your minister.

Encourage your minister regularly.

Be an ally. Befriending your minister and working alongside him will greatly bless him and the work he is doing.

Sep
03

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. (Psalm 79:13)

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:1)

For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 34:11-15)

And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 34:31)

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:7-15)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:31-33)

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4)

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Aug
12

As some churches resume in-person meetings, church leaders have noticed that not everyone is eager to return. Understandably, there are people in high-risk categories that won’t return until there is a vaccine. Others, such as caretakers or nursing home employees, may want to take extra precautions. However, some are going about their everyday business and aren’t meeting with their brothers and sisters in Christ. There is something wrong when a person is willing to go to a grocery store, restaurant, barber, little league game, etc. but not attend worship. Church leaders may want to play the blame game, but this will not help the situation, nor will it fix the problem. Instead, church leaders should look at what ministry changes they can make to best address these problems.

Many of the problems churches are facing were not created by the pandemic. The last few months have revealed issues that were present before COVID-19. Ministry leaders are feeling stressed because of these problems and others. It is not pleasant to have a new set of problems dropped on your lap in the middle of a pandemic. Shepherds are burdened because tending the flock has become more challenging. It is not surprising that church leaders are feeling more anxiety than they were six months ago. At the same time, these new revelations should be viewed as a blessing. Six months ago, many churches did not know what the problems were or how big they are. Now, we know. Now, we can do something about it.

Here are five ways forward as we seek to do ministry after the coronavirus.

Being Faithful Requires More Than One Hour on Sunday – The Sunday morning worship assembly is a central part of the Christian faith, but there is more to Christianity than this one hour on the first day of the week. What makes a person Christian? What distinguishes them from someone who hasn’t devoted their life to Christ? For some, it is what they do on Sunday morning, and that is it. If people in our pews think Christianity is only about attending a weekly worship service and nothing more, then we have failed. If Christianity does not extend beyond this one hour on Sunday, then it is easy to see why some have no difficulty staying home. Christianity should touch every aspect of life. It should be hard to walk away from the Christian faith because it is who we are. It is where we find our identity. Churches must stress the importance of weekly assembly while also showing how Christianity is essential to everything we do.

The Church’s Mission Is to Make Disciples – We are called to make disciples. This is what the Great Commission requires (Matt. 28:19). We have sometimes confused this calling with baptizing a person. We may teach a person about Christianity and then baptize them and do nothing else. If this is all we do, then we are not fulfilling the Great Commission. We are getting people wet, but we are not making disciples. If we have a church full of people who have never been discipled, then it shouldn’t be surprising when some of them drop out. Every church needs to have a model for discipleship and be actively engaged in discipleship. We need to do more than get people wet. We need to convert people to Jesus and show them how to walk in his footsteps.

Churches Must Be Able to Adapt – Many churches are realizing what they are doing is not working. These congregations will either adapt or die. This is not a call for churches to change doctrine and embrace the culture around them. These adaptations will only create more problems. Instead, congregations need to look at what they are doing and be willing to change. It might be discipleship has been neglected, or the church has failed to serve its neighbors. Maybe there are few opportunities to build Christian relationships. If what a church is doing is not working, then they must be humble enough to look at their practices and change.

Bodily Presence Is a Requirement of Church – There was a lot of excitement around virtual church several months ago when some congregations were going online for the first time. We have discovered new ways of ministering to people. Churches have reached people they would have never reached before. This is great, but hopefully, we have also come to realize the value of physical presence. Two thousand years ago, Jesus took on flesh and blood to minister to people. Christians come together every week to partake of real bread and real wine. One of the central tenants of the Christian faith is bodily resurrection. We must be careful not to deemphasize the physical nature of Christianity. Our physical presence matters. It matters at a wedding. It matters when someone dies, and it matters when the church comes together. Watching online is not the same as being assembled with fellow Christians in the same space. Christians should regularly break bread together. We should serve together and pray together. In a world saturated with Zoom meetings, we must take the time and make the effort to be together in person with one another.

Spiritual Formation Is Not Optional – We must grow as Christians. If we do not, then we have missed what Christianity is all about. We are being transformed into the image of Jesus. If this is not taking place, then we are not practicing Christianity. One of the reasons churches might be experiencing problems is because they have not emphasized spiritual formation. Christians need help in reaching spiritual maturity. Church leaders should be engaged in practicing spiritual disciplines and encouraging others to do the same. These ancient Christian practices should be found among every body of believers. They should be taught in classes. They should be proclaimed from the pulpit. They should be practiced communally and individually. A church is a community where people find help and encouragement in becoming like Christ.

Jul
30
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a simple task that is quite significant. Because this sermon is full of grand statements and challenging commands, we may overlook what might seem to be a minor imperative. While we concern ourselves with turning the other cheek and loving our enemies, we must not neglect the less familiar words of Jesus. In fact, the practice of noticing something small is at the heart of what Jesus says.
 
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.” (Matthew 6:28)
 
If we were to rank everything we are to do in the Sermon on the Mount in order of importance, consider the lilies would probably be near the bottom of most people’s lists. If we are going to make an impact on the world, then we believe we need to do something grand, but Jesus often asks us to do simple things. We are to wake up each day and consider the lilies of the field. Why? Because we can easily become distracted with worldly matters and live anxiously rather than peacefully. It is when we stop to consider the lilies that we remember that God is in control.
 
Too often, things in this world that are extraordinary become common. Buildings obscure our view of the sunset. The glimmer in a drop of dew is impossible to notice as we speedily walk by. We pass by flowers in a field at 70 mph. Sometimes we are so distracted by a screen to see a child right in front of us vying for our attention. Jesus commands us to stop and pay attention. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. Maybe we don’t stop because deep down we want to be in control. Maybe we falsely believe the world needs our contribution to keep going. Whatever it is, we are resisting the ways of Jesus when we refuse to stop and notice. We need to consider the lilies. We need to pause each day, look around, and be reminded that God has created an amazing world that we are blessed to be a part of, and he is in control of every inch of it. Glory to God in the highest!
Jul
22

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

Freedom is one of the most misunderstood concepts in our culture. Many assume that freedom means the right to do whatever one wants to do, but this is not freedom. It is anarchy. If everyone does what is right in their own eyes and there are no rules or laws to follow, then this is a recipe for disaster. If freedom causes harm to myself or others, then it is not really freedom. It is slavery masquerading as freedom.

What is freedom? It is living how we were created to live. It is fulfilling our purpose in life. It is human flourishing as God has prescribed. The Bible has much to say about freedom and it is important that our understanding of freedom come from the Bible and not culture. In Exodus, Moses famously delivers the word of the Lord to Pharaoh. He says, “Let my people go!” This was a call to freedom. What did freedom look like for the people of God? It was traveling to Mount Sinai to receive the law from God. They needed instructions for how to live as they were created to live. Through the law, God taught them how to flourish as human beings.

We find the same concept in the New Testament. Freedom is not living however we decide to live. This is sinning and if we are devoted to sin, then we are slaves to sin (John 8:34). True freedom is found only in Christ. It is abiding in his word (John 8:31-32). It is living how God intended us to live. What does this look like? We are told in several passages. It is refusing to indulge our flesh and live selfishly and choosing to serve one another (Gal. 5:13). It is refusing to do evil and choosing to serve God (1 Pet. 2:16).

I believe we should talk more about freedom, but not the freedom that looks inward and focuses on oneself. This is nothing more than one of the many forms of slavery in the world. Freedom in Christ is to look beyond ourselves. I am free when I consider my neighbor and serve him. I am free when I look to God and do the will of God. It is only when I do these things that I will truly flourish as a human being because this is what God created me to do.

Jul
21

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

Americans are growing unhappier each year. Part of the reason for our unhappiness is social media. Many people do not feel better after spending time online. They feel worse, and yet we keep doing it. We refuse to give it up no matter how miserable it makes us feel.

Social media can be a great tool. It helps family and friends stay connected. There are many benefits, but it all depends on how we use it. Social media is an extension of ourselves. It is our presence online. If social media is bad, then we only have ourselves to blame.

One of the main reasons people are unhappy online is because social media encourages selfishness. We share to see how many likes we can get. We jump online because we believe everyone needs to hear our opinion. We want to tell other people how to live, think, and vote, and when they don’t conform, we get upset. We are the center of our social media world.

The answer to happiness, online and offline, is found in Scripture. We have to look beyond ourselves. Social media will be better if we spend more time encouraging others rather than seeking likes. Social media will be better if we spend more time listening and cultivating meaningful conversations rather than giving our opinion about the latest controversy. Social media will be better if we spend more time edifying and uplifting others rather than criticizing and calling names.

Jesus says we are to be a light to the world, but often when I am on social media, I do not see much light. We sometimes forget that being a light applies to every aspect of life. This includes our time online. There is much griping and complaining online. There are people promoting divisions and spreading falsehoods. None of this is light. Others choose to stay silent, but this is not light either. We should look for ways to encourage, uplift, and promote goodness. We should think less about our own interests and more of others. We should look for ways to help people who are lonely or discouraged. Social media will be better if we choose to be light, especially in the midst of darkness.

Jul
09

“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3:7-9)

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:43-46)

How we speak of others matters. It matters online and offline. It matters for people we know and people we don’t know. It matters for people we like and people we don’t like. Inappropriate comments directed at others often stem from problems with how we think. James alludes to this in James 3:9 when he says we sometimes use our mouth to praise God and curse people made in the image of God. We easily forget that every human being is an image bearer. Instead, we think of people as the world thinks of them. We see them as evil or enemies. We see them as less than human or having nothing to do with God. When we divorce people from goodness, humanity, or God, then it is easy for us to treat them however we like.

One way our thinking of others is altered is through the use of images. The images we find of people and groups online can be quite extreme. Politicians become caricatures that people continuously mock and ridicule. There are even times when violence is committed against such images.

Although most of us would never consider sharing a violent image of someone else, we do use images to portray groups we don’t like in negative ways. When choosing pictures to represent a group that opposes our values, we typically use unfavorable images rather than favorable ones. We choose the fringe member of a group who has little in common with the group as a whole to be the face of the group. This is because it is much easier to argue against someone who is extreme and unreasonable than it is to argue against someone who is normal and reasonable. 

We choose unfavorable images and caricatures to represent people and groups with whom we disagree because our motives are wrong. The goal of most online discussions is to win or to destroy the other side. These are not Christian goals for interactions with others. Instead, our goals should be to love and understand. Even if someone is my enemy, I am to love them, not seek to destroy them. When we have the right goals, our treatment of others will be more kind and just. 

Our unfair treatment of others goes beyond images. We like to jump to extremes in discussions as well. If someone says “black lives matter” then they are automatically a Marxist. If someone refuses to see racism in every situation, then they are automatically a white supremacist. It doesn’t matter that most people fighting for racial equality are not Marxists, and most people who don’t find racism wherever they look are not white supremacists. Again, we do this because we have the wrong motives. It is not fair. It is not right, and it is certainly not helpful.

Most conversations nowadays demand nuance. This means the memes people like to share often do more damage than good. They might be funny to you and a few friends, but they do not further the conversation. Instead, we need to show patience and kindness in our discussions. We need to always assume the best unless we know otherwise. We need to refrain from jumping to conclusions and make a habit of asking for clarification. We need to commit to peacemaking. This doesn’t mean we will always agree, but it does mean we will value relationships over opinions.

How we think matters because what we think will be revealed in what we say and do. It will be evident if we are trying to dominate and conquer others or if we are loving and caring for them. Every person has been stamped with the image of God and it is our duty to love them. God desires peace and reconciliation, not division. It is our duty to encourage people to draw closer to God, not to drive them away. It is because of this, we need to make sure we are thinking rightly of others.