I have written before about the lack of civility in our country. And this is a topic that is really close to my heart. This issue is based on how we communicate (not)!
The first place that I see a big difference is the number of Christians that seem to put politics ahead of their faith. And when I hear the rhetoric coming from the people they support, I wonder why they would support someone who is so hateful. Right or wrong I believe our leaders have good intentions, albeit not the same solutions.
First, I wonder if God isn’t more interested in process than agendas. Being conservative I’ll pick on the Republicans. I believe our forefathers did believe process was more important than agendas. And many of them opposed party politics. To have two scripted agendas where each party has near unanimous compliance is a relatively new development along with the increase of incivility in our country.
My title for this blog comes from the following verse: (Psalm 19:14 WEB) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
This is where to start. But the solution must be spiritual and secular to work. If you say to me that the church alone can accomplish this, I’ll point you to Wall Street, the social media moguls, and the corporations that donate to the campaigns of hateful politicians.
Empty Pews Are an American Public Health Crisis
The following link has disturbing facts about the weakness of our churches in America to combat this threat of growing divisiveness in our society.
This is a quote from the following link: “In 2019, Gallup reported that only 36 percent of Americans view organized religion with “a great deal of confidence,” down from 68 percent in 1975. The study’s authors speculate that this trend has been driven in part by the highly publicized moral failures and crimes of religious institutions and leaders.
The decline in confidence in churches has been accompanied by steep recent declines in both church membership and attendance. Barna Group found that 10 years ago, in 2011, 43 percent of Americans said they went to church every week. By February of 2020, that had dropped 14 percentage points to 29 percent.”
The full article is very challenging and emphasizes a need for the church to get back to its Spiritual roots before it engages the Secular aspects of this crisis.
Just looking at the title emphasizes the point that the lack of church influence is the cause of unholy cultural trends in America.
From the secular perspective the major factor in divisiveness is social media. Social media is geared to feeding the user only opinions that they always agree with. And an extra factor used in fund raising is to generate fear against the counter point of view (“Blinded by Might” by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson). Both authors were also involved in the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition.
Like the chart above shows it is body language that is most important in communication. The following link is an advertisement for Facetime. Facetime is Apple’s signature video chat application. It describes the many benefits of face time because the people conversing can also see body language and the tone of voice.
For Christians Only
So now that I’ve covered the secular aspect of communication and miscommunication, let’s look at how the spiritual aspect can change the current dynamic.
I’ll start with the verse I used in the beginning of this post.
(Psalm 19:12-14 WEB) 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Notice that the person in Psalm 19 admits/confesses his secret and deliberate sins. He then asks that God give him strength to do those things that are acceptable in God’s sight. He refers to God as O LORD and my redeemer/forgiven.
The Elder James (Jesus’ brother) has a simple formula for conducive communication. (James 1:19 WEB) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
100 Bible Verses about Effective Communication
Every one of these 100 verses need to be embraced to start to fix the lack of civility in our country. But first we must ask about our own church fellowship. How well is it working? The three aspects I feel that create incivility are:
- Personalizing ministries
Did you notice that these three aspects are addressed in the following 100 verses?
It grieves me that an organization that feels it speaks for God can be so dysfunctional. Did you read through the Empty Pews link? Our churches are a mess. We have a building fund at my church. Half of our members have decided to save the money on their own so they can cast their $vote for or against any decision the church would make. Those who have died have cast a no vote by not including the “Building Fund” savings (they were accumulating?) in their will.
I know that one factor that is missing in most of our churches, was very strong in the church at Smyrna.
(Revelation 2:8-11 WEB) 8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna, write; These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil will cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches; He that overcometh, shall not be hurt by the second death.
Persecution forces people together against a common enemy – the force of darkness described in scripture. (1 John 2:11 WEB) But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because darkness hath blinded his eyes. Haven’’t I been describing all along the hatred and divisiveness in our society? When will it end? When will we make it end?
There are a lot of ways that churches have gotten their members to take the church outside of the building. But may I suggest that encouraging members to do so requires a ministry that would build the confidence of members to do so. Small Groups can be the vehicle. And my question is why we haven’t done so already.
I suggest that each week/every other week/twice a month we evaluate our individual efforts as a group. I also suggest that men lead these Small Groups because of their ability to focus on a single task – evangelism.
What we’ll find is our successes. But what we’ll also find are rejections and ridicule. Isn’t that what the church at Smyrna experienced. Isn’t that being in good company? And along the way won’t Christians help build a better church and a better society?
If you have any other ideas, please add your comments to this blog.
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