Posts Tagged ‘controversy’

When it comes to controversial stuff online, I have decided to adopt the attitude of the biblical hero Nehemiah. He was engaged in a great project, rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after 70 years of exile had left it destroyed. In the mean time he faced all kinds of struggles and opposition. In one particular plot, the idea was to lure him away from the work. This was his response.
Likewise, there are times in all of our lives when we will face opposition and detractors. There are also times when we will face distractors, that is people who post controversial things that will either accidentally or by design take us off task. I’ve decided to take the same attitude. I don’t have time for needless controversies. Rather I need to stay on mission and do what I’m called to do. Maybe that’s what you need to do to do. You have your calling, you’re on your mission. You are carrying on a great project, don’t let other people bring you “down.”

What do you do when you can’t win? Maybe that’s the wrong question. What do you do when you have two people who have been at loggerheads for a long time, and they’re Christian, and they both believe that they’re in the right and supported by Scripture and that God is on their side?

Well there really aren’t a lot of options. To ask either side to change their view (right or wrong) is akin to asking them to betray their faith and while I’m convinced that the Spirit of God can get through to people and change hearts and minds (I know this because He did it for me) I also know changing hearts and convictions can be a long process. What do you do in the mean time? To be honest, there’s a big part of me that would still love to win, but then the larger question becomes what will I lose if I win? Moreover, what will my faith look like to the people who desperately need to experience it for themselves if I continue to fight a battle that will never be won by my human effort.

What are the real choices? Basically there are two—break the relationship with those with whom I disagree, or find a way to get along, disagree agreeably and work together for the common good, while God works on our hearts? This is not a compromise in belief. I hold my convictions and get back on mission. I get back to doing what God has called me to do. I’m not sure, but that might be how you win.

A little off topic today but this post deals with something that we will all face as we try to express our faith to a world that is often hostile to it. There are times, especially in the world of social media, when we will see something with which we will take issue. Sometimes those things really are an issue and we must take a stand, but then there are those other times…

You see something that you find upsetting, but rather than calming down and using your logic, you unleash the part of your brain that is best kept in check. The result is often catastrophic and it doesn’t need to be. There are a few questions you can ask yourself.

1. Do I have a relationship with this person? (a real one, not just Facebook acquaintances?) Here’s the thing, a person you don’t know, may not care at all what you think about an issue. They’re not invested in you, so there’s a better than even chance, they don’t care about your opinion. Weighing in on their conversation is probably going to do little more than instigate a flame war.
2. Is what the person says in line with their character?
Often, especially in a world of written communication, it’s hard to read a person’s intent. Without the benefit of hearing inflections and seeing body language, we have to assume how they mean what they say. How many times have you heard, “It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it?” It’s really easy to read into a post more than is actually there.
3. Would I be better served posting something positive rather than entering into this discussion?
The best way to overcome negativity is rarely ever to enter into more negativity, but what if we went to positivity instead?
4. Am I speaking the truth in love?
It’s all about building up and growing into the likeness of Christ. That annoying person with their off the wall point of view is someone Jesus died to save. Will your comment bring them closer to that or further away. It is really tempting to verbally “pound” on people when they come against us, especially in matters of faith. It’s also really easy to see a lot of threats to the church and feel persecuted. The truth though is the biggest threat to the church is not external, it’s internal and it comes when people speak love without truth or truth without love. Love without truth is ignoring the Word of God to say whatever will make us more popular. The problem with this is God has not changed His mind. On the other hand, truth without love drives people from the truth that sets men free.
5. Will God be REALLY glorified by me entering into this discussion?
If the conversation will devolve into meanness and stupidity, the answer to this question is no.
6. Have I prayed for this person?
Your wit and wisdom will not be able to change this person and people are almost never fought into the faith. If you don’t believe me look at the crusades. Jesus changes people, so prayer is the first option.
7. Am I just adding to the noise?

Maybe this isn’t as off topic as I thought. We are all about communication here and that is the very heart of this issue. How will we put forth a message of love and hope that will shine in the midst of the billions of messages we see every day? All these questions are a good way to start. Scripture reminds us Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

This issue is bigger than we think and the opportunities and consequences are as well.

confreenactAs creative Christians, one of the things that should concern us is freedom of expression and, like it or not, right now, that is under attack. I’ve never been a huge fan of the confederate flag, for example, but I also understood that it’s meaning to people was diverse and not as one dimensional as some would have us believe. I have no problem that some people are upset by it and yet to force people to remove it, is questionable, not to mention unconstitutional. When TV Land pulled The Dukes of Hazzard because the confederate flag is displayed on top of the General Lee, since let’s face it, that was the original General Lee’s flag, well let’s just say I think they were overreacting a bit. Then I heard that the Gettysburg Battlefield was removing all of the confederate flag materials from their shops, I almost lost it. What’s next, Confederate re-enactors flying flags that say “Bad Guys” on it (thanks to Bob Speck for that joke)?

I’m not arguing that the flag shouldn’t be removed from government buildings. What I am saying is free speech is still worth defending and we come against it in others at our peril. People say and do things every day that upset me profoundly, particularly the negative, nasty things people say about my faith and my God. I am frankly sick of it. I hate seeing people blaspheme the One who set me free, while seemingly bending over backwards to accommodate anything else that comes along. What people say about us, would be labeled hate speech (labeling things “hate speech” is another threat the free speech, by the way) said about any other people group. That being said, I feel the need to defend their right to say it, even though I really can’t stand what they say. Why? Because if I succeed at limiting someone else’s free speech, it’s only a matter of time before it comes back on me.

One of the things that made this nation great is the ability to debate, discuss and disagree without fear of reprisal. That is no longer the case. Political correctness, which looks great on the surface, might be the greatest threat to free speech we have ever seen. When we start to limit what people can say, freedom of speech goes away, and when it’s gone, it’s not coming back. There is a better way.

We were never once, anywhere, given the right not to be offended. It exists nowhere and it shouldn’t. Instead there should be a conversation between people who disagree, as people attempt to win each other over to their point of view, or at the very least come to an understanding and disagree agreeably. I fear this is ultimately what we are losing and we will miss it when it is gone.

I’ll be the first to admit, I hate what people say about my faith and my God. Should I attempt to silence them? No. I should speak the truth in love, and live to prove them wrong. 1 Peter 2:12 reminds us what offended (even persecuted) Christians should do “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Free speech is vital. Use it wisely.

When Iposted cartoons that some found controversial, Ihad over 500 hits. When I post images of Christ and who I say He is… 39 hits. No wonder the tabloids do so well. lol. Tempts one to do conntroversy to controversy’s sake.
Better to stay on mission. Be what you’re called to be.

I’ve been watching Bravo’s Work of Art and have been loving it up until this week. Guest judge Andres Serrano and the challenge too create something controversial kind of put me over the edge. It seems most of the contestants see controversial as either grotesgue or offensive. That’s what happens when you tell people to be controversial. I think there’s a better way. This video explains it more clearly.

Also contained in the video is a reminder that in he midst of all the stuff we are trying to do to remember the stuff that really matters is usually not stuff. Life can be painfully short don’t be too busy to remember what counts.

One of my more "controversial" cartoons