I live a diverse life. I have a diverse family. We live life with a diverse group of people. We are diverse in race, culture, language, politics, and theology. I Pastor a church that is 49.5% nonnative born Anglo. In other words, we are 50.5% American Whites and 49.5% African American and nearing 30 other nations of the world. I love this life. Each week we have a family dinner. There are 10 of us that come together. We are five white Americans, one Filipino, one Chinese, one Russian, one Indian, and one Dominican.
It takes love, patience, and openness to the opinions of others to pastor such a diverse church. I have always been a politically outspoken and politically conservative voter. I still hold to my ideals and the principles, but I have learned that every opinion I have does not need to be aired publically.
Facebook and others will be the death of traditional cultures around the world. Social media platforms have given us the means to express why we are right in a short blurb. All the while hiding behind our computer. This lends to arguments without discourse and spouting off without thinking. I tried that a few times as a kid. That resulted in a flip flop to the back of head. I swear my mom played professional Frisbee in her younger years.
I still hold my very strong convictions of faith, morality, politics, theology, the wonders of all things 1980s, and that pineapple does indeed belong on pizza. I fear that we have lost the balance between our opinions, however valid they are, and our ability to share our faith with a hurting world. Many will be quick to point out that we cannot passively stand by as our country is changed to a Utopia of Socialism…like the wonders of Vietnam, Cuba, and Venezuela. I would agree with that. Where I differ is how we take that stand.
You see, I am increasingly concerned as I see constant opinions and statements that demonize others. Do we not play into Satan’s hands as pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, and apostles if we are willing to sacrifice an opportunity to point someone to the truth of Christ for the sake of our own opinion…as right as we may feel they are? I have been pushed by the Holy Spirit during this COVID Crisis to seek what is God’s will, not just what is good. Sometimes we can be distracted by the good we do, but still not be in the perfect will of God. I do not want to settle for good, I want what God desires.
James the half-brother of Christ says it best. James 3:7-12 “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.” NLT (emphasis mine)
We allow things to pour from our mouths and our fingers on a keyboard. Things that disparage those made in the very image of God. Let me give you a quick example to clarify. Let’s say you pastor in a small town in Kentucky, say 1,000 people. Everyone knows each other. Everyone knows you pastor the church on Main Street. Each week you stand in the pulpit and speak of the love of Christ for humanity. Monday –Saturday your posts say things like, “can you believe these idiots”, “Rep/Dem are such morons”, etc. When a family in your community sees this during the week…are they likely to join you on Sunday? An even bigger question, are they willing to hear you as you meet them on the street during the week and attempt to preach Christ?
Our witness is a fragile thing. It is something that must be preserved at all costs…even holding your opinion when you know you are right. Please understand, I will always speak out on moral issues such as abortion, the sanctity of marriage, and equal application of the law, even then, I will seek to do so in a manner that builds up Christ not disparage others. I will seek to love my brother even if he does not agree that pineapple belongs on pizza.
So, the next time you order pizza, with or without pineapple, think of how your opinions have affected your witness.