My recent encounter with opposing opinions by a fellow American Christian on this post and this post (see comments), brought to my memory a previous lesson God taught me many years ago which I obviously didn’t take to heart enough. The situation I encountered is encapsulated within this post here.
The words that will forever be etched in my mind that the Lord gave to me were relatively straight forward. Jesus asked me “What did you expect him to say?”
In the lesson where Jesus pointed out my shortfall and in the recent encounter, it wasn’t the principle that I wanted to discuss that was wrong in itself but rather the delivery method that I chose and my assumptions that I assumed, that were in error.
Posting or discussing controversial subjects on multimedia can be very tricky. There is that vast separation between ourselves and the individual(s) to whom we are talking to, which provides us with a false sense of immunity from negative feedback. I’ve also learned that what one may present in a written format on a screen and how one would articulate that same subject matter if we were discussing it face to face, differs greatly.
When we are talking with someone face to face, we become more aware of how what we are saying is being received. Body language obviously plays a part and a general tone of reception can quickly modify how we deliver what we want to say. You don’t get that feedback when using multimedia formats. Well actually we do, but unfortunately it is after the volley that we have let loose has been released or published.
When I was putting the initial article together that I posted and which was objected to by a fellow American Christian, I was focused on what I thought was an important component, in this particular case, it was the Great Commission, that I thought was possibly being missed. But by doing so, I broke some cardinal rules when voicing opinions on multimedia.
Cardinal rule number one is I assumed that my input would be received and considered. That is a presumption and a presumption that in many cases is not valid. Criticism from without versus within as pertaining to one’s own country is seldom welcomed. The article I reposted in the post that was objected to, was from an American to Americans. I should have kept my own Canadian thoughts to myself unless invited to voice them. I thought my Christian perspective facilitated me commenting, it didn’t.
Cardinal rule number two is I mistakenly attributed negative behaviour to a wide group of individuals who also have strong feeling and opinions about a given subject that may be in direct opposition to my own feelings and opinions. You can’t project and attribute perceived negative behaviour without expecting to receive some opposing feedback. It’s one of those “what’s going to happen next” situations. Hard to believe I missed that (again).
Cardinal rule number three is that there are certain subjects that are almost automatically going to cause dissention. Family, religion and politics are right up there. Personal confrontation about wrong doing is another biggie. There aren’t too many people who enjoy being criticized, myself included. As one matures one learns to accept criticism and consider as to whether the observations are possibly valid but by and large, because emotions are almost always involved, self acceptance of criticism doesn’t come easily. If I was going to criticise, I could have, at a bare minimum, laid down some qualifying criteria as to whom it might possibly apply to, rather than put everyone in the same category. Short point to remember, don’t over generalize. Missed that one too.
Cardinal rule number four is I failed to take into consider the background of some of those to whom I was addressing. That’s a big mistake. People are not all the same, especially when it comes to beliefs and things that are held in high esteem. When we write something it is vitally important to not necessarily put everyone in the same classic container. There are many human attributes that we all are subject to but there are also many that vary. I failed to take that into consideration too. I know this cardinal rule is close to number three but it is really like a sub-issue with over generalizing. An awareness of the specifics if you will.
There are more cardinal rules that come into play but I will stop for now. I’m seriously thinking of making a banner that sits over the top of my monitor that reads “What do you expect them to say?”
Does that mean that we can no longer speak God’s truth? Of course not, but we are instructed to do so with gentleness, kindness and their well being in the forefront of our minds, taking the other person’s feelings, perceptions and beliefs into consideration, along with our own deficiencies. And as we know, this is especially relevant when we are talking about correcting others when it involves the household of fellow believers.
I could quote a wide variety of scripture verses that backs up what I just said but in keeping with your previous suggestion to keep these posts shorter, I won’t.
To be candid with you, I was deeply saddened about what transpired between myself and my Christian brother. Saddened by my own oversights and inability to convey a message to be considered without causing unnecessary offence. Key word there is unnecessary. I do know that sometimes there is just no way around it but in this particular case there was. I could have done a lot better and I must endeavor to do so more in the future.
When we post things to be considered by others we must remember that we are ambassadors for Christ. Our audiences are not all the same, writing to fellow Christians is one venue, writing to non-believers is another. And within the household of faith, we are admonished to honestly love one another. That is not lip service where we just say it and then carry on without breaking stride, with our own agenda.
We, as Christians, have but one agenda, to bring glory and honour to Christ in all that we say or do.
I do have one scripture verse that I must quote.
Matthew 11:29 NIV “ Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.“
This recent unnecessary conflict, brought about by my own inability to take to heart all that Jesus tells me to do, makes me realise how far I have yet to go.
Jesus told us that without Him we could do nothing. I believe Him.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!