Herm Edwards is famous for a phrase… “Don’t press send!”
No one knows how many tweets I delete before pressing send. Honestly, some are mostly harmless, but my wife sees things that I do not and I have learned to defer to her judgment because she is usually correct. Sometimes things that are completely innocent are seen by another in a different way. However, there are others that are correct factually but are not typed in a correct spirit. So, I delete them.
Some of those deleted tweets are really, really good though.
Another reason that I delete some tweets before I press “send” is that while I feel I understand what others don’t seem to, it is impossible to change another by a 240 character soundbite. That tweet can be retweeted and liked and even rally those who are already on my side, but it will also spark the vitriol of those on the other. Neither of these responses serve to right a wrong, but only make me sound intelligent or insane… depending on your point of view and biases. I have attempted in these times to instead privately message those that I can in order to properly engage in the discussion needed to understand another and work toward solutions.
The border issue is a prime example of this, so I move toward this “blogisphere” to try to address a few things.
First, there has been much said by church leaders and others about what is the “christian” thing to do. Those in the secular world decided to bring the Bible into the fray and began to jostle back and forth on compassion of children and immigrants vs. obeying the laws of the land. The fact that we view these two correct biblical thoughts as being against each other should be the subject of another time, but this is actually part of the problem in the case of the day. Both sides need to stop. Anytime a verse is used against another it only shows that we are still trying to make a god in our image while calling out the other for denying the god we create. It is not helpful.
It is also passive aggressive. “A real Christian would/would not…” is code for “I am a better Christian than you are and you are what is wrong with the world.” It is also assuming. To agree with one point is not a stamp of approval of all points. We have to stop labeling beyond the idea before us. If I tell you that I believe “blue” is a good color, and is in fact my favorite color, you would be wrongly assuming if you then surmised that I believe anyone who prefers red is a Nazi.
Again, please stop. It’s the way the world thinks and works and is never going to change a culture.
Second, there are some issues that need to be thought through and not simply reacted to. I am a believer in God and a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a Christian. I am also a pastor. I understand the Scriptures, and also understand that there are a lot of things that I don’t understand about God and the Scriptures. I try to hear God’s heart in the matters before me and try not to cherry pick a scripture that fits my agenda. So, with that in mind, here we go…
There is not really an easy solution, nor one that is more “Christian” than the other.
The border problem and mass people crossing unknown is not a great thing. There is a process for people entering any country, as well there should be. There is an issue of security that cannot be overlooked, and a government is in place to secure and protect the people it serves. There is a fiscal responsibility of the government as well, and the welfare of a nation’s citizens are the primary focus of that responsibility.
There is also a history of our nation extending its hand to those in need. We are to be a place for the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” We are a people who have come from everywhere to be here. A proper vetting process does not go against that history, but when someone is fleeing oppression, there should be a way to provide a safe haven in our great land so that they can enjoy freedom without fear.
A family has the responsibility for their children. The government is never meant to care for our children… the family is. Separation of families happen every day when a member of the family commits a crime. It is awful, but it is not the fault of the one enforcing the law, but the fault of the one who put their family in that situation by committing the crime.
The church must stop asking the government to shirk its duty, but instead look for a solution to help in practical ways. In fact, both of these is the way God has set things up. Those put in legal authority do their job, and God’s people offer compassion and grace and prayer for those in authority. These two are not mutually exclusive, but instead they work together, because God designed how everything should work. Those who are pastors, at the very least, must glean from their own knowledge of how things work in their own leadership roles and begin to lead with the understanding that sometimes others don’t know all of the details of what is going on behind the scenes. This is why you do not just do what the masses are screaming for you to do, but you attempt to follow God’s heart and do what God would have you do. This is also why your role as a citizen is to pray for those who are making decisions based on information that you do not have.
We must be consistent. We must champion the lives of children… period. We cannot ever be pleased when a child is crying or harmed because of a decision that another makes. Our hearts must go out for that child. We must respectfully petition those who could implement change and pray that proper decisions would be made for long-term solutions that make sure children are never endangered. Championing the lives of children also applies to the unborn in a mother’s womb. The two are not different… they are the same.
Be honest that you do not want Trump to win. If you were against Obama and wanted him to fail, be honest about that as well. Then repent. Stop perpetuating a narrative that is based on preferences and assumptions given as “fact”. Our prayer should be that every President does what God would have them do and our nation prospers because of it. If one did not agree with a policy of President Obama that did not make them a racist. That was the narrative pushed, and it was wrong. If one agrees with President Trump on an issue, it does not mean that they have sold out as an evangelical. That is the narrative pushed, and it is wrong as well. Some of our problem is that we do not have a proper knowledge of history, we do not understand how our nation is set up, and we have accepted that we are to be against the other side so vehemently that we will not sit down to hear the other out.
Here is what has happened (in a very overly simplified way):
1997 was the beginning of a policy that children could only be incarcerated for 20 days. While every President has openly declared that they would be tough on illegal immigration and have been very clear about the real issues illegal immigration has on our nation and its resources, none have really attempted to get to the core of the issues. The optics are too bad, so there is much talk and no action. Over this time frame the political climate became so charged that the focus was on disagreement with and vilifying the other side and no one wanted to sit down and find the best solution. Under President Obama, there is debate on the conditions of containment and separation and all, but the decision was made in the end to let the families go into our country with the order to those families to report to court to decide their fate. 3% of those families reported to court. President Trump considered the situation at the border unacceptable (as the previous Presidents had) and implemented a zero tolerance policy. The families would be taken through process without letting them go with an order to report at a future date, and the children would not be allowed to be held with the parents. This had been the policy for a time, but it created an optic that was bad and brought about the fervor of the last week or so. The agreement of most is that there was probably a better way to handle the children, but the decision was the decision. Now, the President has changed the policy to allow the children to stay with their parents, but the parents will still be processed and vetted before possible release. The complicated issues have been secondary to a disdain for President Trump. Even today the accusations have turned to complain that President Trump is wanting to keep children incarcerated indefinitely.
So what should Christians do?
If an action is contrary to the Bible, speak out in Truth AND love. Do both… because one without the other cannot truly show the heart of God. If an action is against our laws (constitution), call your Representative or Senator. They want your votes so they will work on your behalf. If an action is just something you don’t like, then say you don’t like it. It is your right to speak out if you wish. However, there are two things that must follow that right to speak out. First, if you see a problem, never stop at complaining but come with a solution. The goal should be to get it right, not just be right. Show why the action is less than what is preferable and give the steps to get things where they need to be. Second, remember you cannot demand that someone accepts your preference. Others might have different opinions and different approaches. That does not necessarily make them evil, or even wrong. Biblical things cannot be compromised on. Unlawful things must not be allowed. However, likes and wishes cannot be imposed on another, but can be catalysts to convince another of a better way.
In all things, stop and read your tweets (and posts, and conversations) before you press “send”. Do they sound like love? Do they come from a heart of anger, hurt, or political bias? Do they reek of “SEE!!! I told you he/she is bad/evil and they must be stopped or your are not a real Christian like me.”?
Don’t press send.
Repent. Pray. Be humble. Realize that there are probably things you don’t know.
Ask how God’s glory can be displayed and how healing and reconciliation can come.
Do that instead.