How You Say What You Believe Matters
With the recent decision of the Supreme Court (i.e. Same Sex Marriage) plus the 24/7 social media hashtags and statements that are attached I believe we must be able to say what we believe with the right attitude and tone. Our beliefs, if not declared correctly, can anger, frustrate and even confuse those who are listening.
I have my deeply held core beliefs – they are based on God’s Word. I know that I don’t always get it right, but I work very hard to live my life as a reflection of the Bible. I believe God’s Word is the final authority on all matters (2 Timothy 4:2). I believe that every person is a sinner who needs Jesus (Romans 3:23). I believe the only way to Heaven is through accepting Christ into our hearts (Romans 10:13). I believe God wants to extend healing into our lives (Isaiah 53:1-5). I believe that one day Jesus will return and take His Church home to Heaven (1 Thess. 4:16-17). I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit equips, enables and empowers us to live the overcoming life (Acts 1:8). I believe God desires to bless His children (Philip. 4:19). I believe that God loves every person that has ever existed (John 3:16). And yes I do believe in the Biblical view of Marriage – one man and one woman (Matt. 19:4-6). There are so many more, but I hope you get the idea. These beliefs are rooted in Scripture. They are not rooted in hatred or bigotry, but a strong belief in the Holy Bible.
You see, there is a difference between opinion or belief. An opinion lacks sufficient evidence, but a belief is based on something real. Because I believe God’s Word is real I base my decisions, hopes, dreams and convictions on it. It is real to me. It has changed my life. So I allow what Scripture to shape my beliefs. As a Christian, the Bible has to be my guide. Its that simple.
Here are some guidelines for sharing your beliefs:
- Know what you believe and why you believe it. Make sure that before you share you have studied, developed and grown to know not just what, but why. Too many Christians will state their belief and not be able to tell where it comes from, what Scripture did you use to come to that conclusion or who else did you read.
- Love with your words. Even if you are going to disagree with someone never demean, trivialize or demoralize their position, opinion or belief. Respect everyone. Even when you disagree on deeply held convictions. Love does matter. I choose to love everyone – even those I disagree with.
- Never knee jerk. Don’t spout off in anger or frustration. So many people have vented on social media about their beliefs without thought as to how others would feel or react. You will never be able to articulate your beliefs in 140 characters on social media. Be careful.
- Develop relationships. The closer you are to people the more likely they will listen to what you have to say (and visa versa). All caps statements, yelling and nasty text messages will never help us understand each other. I am thankful to have friends from all walks of life.
- Don’t focus on AN issue, focus on THE issue. The issue is that all humanity needs Jesus and my mission is to draw people to Jesus, not repel them from Jesus. My ambition in life is to share the hope that Jesus brings.
- Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean that hate you. I am not sure where this philosophy developed, but some believe “in order to accept me you have to accept everything I believe.” That simply is not true. I have a friend that is a Muslim. I don’t believe what he believes but we are still friends.
- Conversations are better than casualties. I would rather have a talk with someone and share my beliefs with them as opposed to only making public statements. It has to be a combination. I love sitting in my office with people of opposing beliefs and engaging a conversation. There are less casualties that way.
So many pastors/leaders/Christians addressed the Supreme Court decision within moments. I chose not to. Not because I don’t have my beliefs, but because I wanted to make sure my response my loving, appropriate, Scriptural and respectful. People are looking for leaders not infomercials. Sound bytes don’t help anyone.
I am not freaked out by the decision of the Supreme Court – I disagree, but I am not screaming, “The sky is falling.” God was not sitting on his throne declaring, “Oh man, I did not see that coming,” after the decision was made. Nothing takes God by surprise. So I will always trust His plan and purpose.
A scripture that I put my entire ministry on: “Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life” (1 Timothy 6:3). My job as a pastor/leader/friend is to help people live a godly life. Every person is on their own journey and growing at their own pace – and that means I have to be patient in the process in sharing truth.
So share your beliefs. I will always respect them. But make sure that you share them in a godly, kind, caring and loving way. I may respectfully disagree, but I will never disagree to respect all.