Verbal Vitriol? That’s Unacceptable!

A few days ago, my wife and I were watching television news.  As we cringed at another video of “protestors” screaming and gesticulating in the face of police officers, we were struck by the hatred that spewed out. Unreasoning, shrieking, and red-faced, the black-clad young people seemed to be driven by some dark force beyond the norm for human ire.  This kind of scene is not uncommon in our current environment.  Judy turned to me and said, “I think I recognize that spirit.”  I knew immediately what she meant.

Around thirty years ago, we invited a special speaker to our church. He was a Jewish Rabbi who had survived the Holocaust.  He was interned in a camp, but the Allies arrived before he was executed. Upon his release he found that his family had all been killed.  After the war, he moved to New York City where, after reading and investigating Isaiah 53, he became a Christian.  He attended an evangelical college and dedicated the remainder of his life to reaching other Jewish people with the Gospel.

Because our local college campus had a large Jewish contingent, we sponsored a public meeting there for him to tell his story.  There was a good turn-out to hear his riveting tale.  Everything went swimmingly until he began to recount his conversion experience. Many of the Jewish students began to revile him.  They screamed and cried and called this unassuming elderly gentleman the vilest of names. They used language that caused even me to blush.  He was unflappable in the face of it, and carefully answered every question from the Torah, quoting the Hebrew texts from memory to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah.

For over 2 hours, the Rabbi stood and quietly responded with love and grace to the most rabid outpouring of unreasoning hatred that I personally had ever seen.  It was an eye-opening experience for us.  We came away with a new appreciation for what Jesus faced as He made His final trek from Gethsemane to Calvary. Indeed, it took no imagination to hear the crowd screaming, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” 

Now, in 2020, as Judy and I watched the viciousness of the screaming demonstrators on our TV, we knew we were seeing a manifestation of the same spirit that showed up in our campus crowd so many years ago. That spirit shows no respect for another’s opinion or life experience, no empathy or recognition of their value.  It has no desire nor gives any effort to find truth or accommodation. In fact, it uses intimidation to stifle any reasoned response. It knows only hatred and shows only contempt. That is unacceptable.   

For the crisis we are in to move to a conclusion, there must either be dialogue or destruction.  Without conversation, the only place to go is confrontation.  That will be a bloody mess.  I pray that cooler heads on both sides will prevail.  I pray we find public servants who will discover ways to make the system more responsive the rights of those who have been wronged.  I pray that we can also find someone in the outraged crowd who will admit that, flawed as it is, America is far and away humankind’s best effort at governing itself and attempting to bring everyone along for the ride.

In addition to those nice global prayers, I pray that the church in America take a stand for truth and love.  Instead of entering the fray, remember to pray.  If we don’t, who will?  Remember, the Church is the Body of Christ, not the political movement of religious outrage.  Paul’s words come to mind: “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.  We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NLT)” 

Let’s use God’s mighty weapons:

  • Pray:  Take the Name of Jesus and the Word of God into the closet and pray for revival in the land.  Turn off the news, the phone, and the outrage mob and pray in the Spirit. Ephesians 6:17-19
  • Tell somebody:  We can pray all we like, but without hearing the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith and transformation cannot come.  Romans 10:14-15
  • Worship:  The presence of God in the praises of His people causes the enemy to take a hike.  Psalm 68:1-4

Pray, but don’t substitute prayer for action.  Let it be the impetus to action.  Complaining to your friends about how awful things are is not action.  Posting things on your social media is not action either, unless you have lots of friends who are unsaved.  Most of us post into the Christian digital echo chamber, then gloat over the number of likes we get.  How about actually doing something that touches lives that don’t already agree with you?  Need some ideas?  Here are just a few:

  • Use tech to touch others.  Get out of the Christian Facebook Ghetto and start following some people whose politics you despise.  Try Twitter (I opened a second account just for this purpose) or Tik Tok, or Instagram, or whatever.  When you see a post that is particularly goofy, or that indicates the individual may be in distress, respond with a promise to pray for them.  (Then do it) Let them know that Jesus died for them.  Somebody will read it. Somebody will believe it.
  • Pray for those that despitefully use you.  When you see a specific statement that offends you, pray for that person by name.  If it’s a public official, go to their Facebook page and post a message of love and pray for them.  Let them know you disagree, and why you disagree, but that you still love and pray for them. Then do it.  If you say you will pray, then don’t do it, that’s a lie.  That’s unacceptable.
  • Inform yourself on the issues of the day.  Loud ignorance is still ignorance.  The outrage mob is very confident in their delusion. (Seriously, follow BLM on Twitter and learn how they think.) Truth is your sword and shield. Love is your guiding principle.
  • Give financially to ministries on the front lines.  There are some, like Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who are doing TV adds with a salvation message. Cool. Support schools that are teaching kids real history and how to think.  Support good Christian schools in your town.  (Last Sunday, I asked young people to forgive me for not paying more attention to the public schools that left them so incredibly ignorant.)  Support a college that is not teaching socialism, but instead loves God and America.  I personally support Hillsdale College
  • If you want to leave the house, how about
    • Get a group together to go downtown (or wherever the “protests” are happening) and prayer walk the area.  God will bring you opportunities to speak to people. Speak the truth in love and offer to pray for their needs. Don’t carry signs, carry glory.  No screaming!  That’s unacceptable.
    • Get a group together to sing praises in the public square.  Let the Presence do the heavy lifting.  No preaching, just familiar hymns, and songs. Kind of like Christmas caroling, only not as cold.
    • Get involved with the public schools.  The righteous remnant there could use your support, your labor, and your prayers.  We have given away a generation to the godlessness of socialism.  We are now tasked with winning them back.  In the meantime, let’s do something to prevent the next generation from following the same path.
    • You’re smart and Spirit-filled, think of your own!

Here’s the Point:  Trying to reason with people who are totally given over to rage, or something darker, is impossible.  The battle is in the Spirit.  As God’s people, we can’t expect the lost to reach out to us.  We’re here to reach out to them.  We have all the tools necessary to do so.  Those screaming youngsters and the more calculating puppeteers who direct them are all sinners for whom Christ died.  They face an eternity that doesn’t care a bit about their politics, only their souls.  If we don’t reach them, who will?  Let them go to hell unimpeded?  That’s unacceptable!

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