It was Fourth Grade. I had Mrs. Shepherd as a teacher. Aaron and I became best buddies the year prior, and that friendship continued to grow throughout the year.
Then something happened.
I can’t begin to tell you what it was, maybe he could, but after the first quarter, we had some type of falling out. It started on the playground, simply avoiding each other and playing with our other friends. Then it grew to gossiping about each other. It finally came to ahead when we were shouting names at each other in class during a test.
Our teacher kicked us out into the hall. We received a very big (and much needed) scolding during recess when we were forced to stay in our classroom while Mrs. Shepherd graded papers. We eventually made up and forgave each other which is a really cool story for another time. But, I thought about that story today while scrolling through my news feeds.
Learning to play nice
It’s easy to see the world as I see it. I’ve lived my life, formed my thoughts and opinions and have lived out what I truly believe, not what I simply say I believe. Physically, it’s easy to see my life the way I see it through my own glasses that have changed prescriptions over the years. I put them on every morning, see my world, live in it, take them off at night as I lay down to go to sleep. This is what I have grown accustomed to. Spiritually is not different.
But along come things that change that. People, situations–they tend to either reinforce how I look at the world, or greatly challenge it. Okay, sometimes greatly, sometimes subtly, but challenge it none the less. Sometimes I allow them to change my view, other times it’s only reinforced it.
I’ve lived a third of my life overseas and have come to believe that everyone has something to offer when it comes to my view of the world. Everyone has something to offer when it comes to my view of the world. Click To Tweet
Social media and division
Given all the things that have come up in the world in the past several weeks and months, Facebook, Twitter and even other outlets like Instagram, have become places of division. I don’t think I’m sharing anything earth shattering here.
Open up any news site, click on the television, or scan the radio and all we can understand is division. Recent events have turned my news feed into a place of separation, divorce and breakdown of relationships. This has happened between people and the media and even friendships over these issues. It’s been sad.
Many of my friends on Facebook, followers of Jesus, devout Atheist, Buddhist-it doesn’t matter-have been going back and forth, debating, arguing and destroying their friendships. And it’s sad to me.
Politics are always tense because there are billions of people in the world with billions of differing opinions. One liners, memes and snarky comments have become the norm for communication of topics that are incredibly sensitive and emotionally heavy. One liners, memes and snarky comments have become the norm for communication Click To Tweet
I was reading the post of a friend in one such debate. He was egging on one of his “friends.” When he was posed with the question of “Why don’t you just unfriend her?” He shot back, “I hope she pushes the button, but I won’t. It’s too entertaining.” He is a follower of Jesus. This too brings me great sadness.
Debating the Unfriend button
I have found myself reading a post by someone and moving my mouse to the “unfriend” button, but then I pause. I’ve had a really hard time debating, internally, the past few weeks. Arguing with myself about whether I should unfriend someone on social media, or simply allow their opinion to be expressed. It’s been a struggle.This is partly because of my “people pleasing” dysfunctional self, I have to admit. But there is another reason I believe God is challenging me in.
If someone is attacking you, dehumanizing you, then yes, I fully agree that you should unfriend them on social media. However, in the current heated political scene of our country, there is a lot of discussion happening.
From indigenous people’s rights, to immigrants looking for shelter, to those with no voice in the womb, to international pacts held for decades, there is a lot to take in. There is a lot to discuss. Which is why I say don’t press that button! There is a lot to take in. There is a lot to discuss. Click To Tweet
A wise friend of mine once said “If you walk into a church and everyone looks the same, run!”
I think he’s right. If we surround ourselves only with people who have the same values, ideals, priorities, gender, faith tradition, political stance and even age as we do, we are simply fostering an ingrown worldview and perspective.
The gospel is understood differently in Asia than it is in North America, among Native Americans than African Americans, among white Africans and black Africans–but one doesn’t understand better than the other. They simply understand differently.
What’s on the heavenly feed
Jesus took the time to listen to those He surrounded himself with. Rich, wealthy, female, male, prostitute, fishermen. All different. All different perspectives of this Son of Man. Revelation 7 speaks of a great multitude of people made up of every tongue, nation and tribe praising God.
And that’s just it, the beautiful tapestry God has woven throughout His creation. I believe we aren’t to wait until the end times to start to gain a deeper, broader, fuller understanding of God and His people. We are to start now, in the world we’ve been born into.
In today’s age we can be connected with people from almost every walk of life, every country, every language, every culture. There is really no excuse for us not to surround ourselves with people of differing viewpoints. This will only grow our understanding of self and of God. But not when we’re too comfortable with that unfriend button. We need to surround ourselves with people of differing viewpoints. Click To Tweet
And it seems that it is becoming more and more comfortable for us to simply block those that disagree. I’m so thankful Jesus didn’t do that with me. Perhaps He is calling us, followers of Him in this dawn of division to be the listeners. To be the friends of those who are different from us. To the “others” both within the Body of Christ and without.
My challenge to all of us in this age of comfort is to dive into the uncomfortable, the uneasy conversations, the tension of differing views and simply be Jesus. Maybe then we can be the peace makers and the bridge builders in this new era where it seem they are all being burned.