Heated conversations and physical confrontations are occurring all over America. A look, a gesture, a word (no matter how innocent) seem to send seemingly nice people into fits of rage and anger. People are easily offended and their responses to the perceived offenses are off the charts.
In addition to individual conflicts, the present climate in America fuels racism, sexism, and ageism that affects everyone. No one is exempt, and no one can afford to put their heads in the sand and pretend all is well. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignoring what is going on in America will not make it go away.
So, what should Christians do?
I suggest that we Christians should use the “What would Jesus do?” litmus test. If Jesus would respond, you respond. If He would ignore it, let it go and walk away.
Let me give you two examples from my own life:
During training for prison ministry, I spoke to and started to hug a fellow female pastor who I had not seen in a couple of years. I was so glad to see her. She pushed me away and started yelling, “Don’t touch me! God said to do to you what you did to me!” She was speaking so loud, the guards stopped to look and see what was going on. She later told several other pastors who were at the training that I had ignored her at a meeting in the past and God told her to do the same to me the next time she saw me. Wow! Litmus Test: What would Jesus do? He would not mimic her irrational behavior and become angry also. Neither did I. Each time I see her, I speak to her with a smile on my face. It has been two years now and she still refuses to speak to me. I am going to leave that anger with her. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:8, NIV).
While fellowshipping with people at the “Y”, one of the white Republican men asked us Black Democrat women what we thought about what Trump was doing for America. The table went silent. Litmus test: What would Jesus do? I immediately said with a smile, “I think we need to change the topic so that we can keep being friends.” He agreed, and we have all continued to be friendly and have enriching conversations since then. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).
Racism is “prejudice discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” The Black Lives Matter Movement is a response to racism. This is an international activist movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?
Sexism is “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” The “Me Too” Movement “is an international movement against sexual harassment and assault. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a co-worker, a client or customer. The victim can be of any gender. Those affected are in the music industry, sciences, academia, financial industry, politics, sports, and even church. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”
Ageism is “prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. Many regard older people as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.” I think that our present government is practicing ageism when it wants to cut back on what they call “entitlement programs”: social security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment and welfare programs. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”
Yes, we should pray, but faith without works is dead. I am very interested in how you think Jesus would respond to the present social climate in America today. Join the conversation.