With all that has happened in the last week from the tragic death of George Floyd to the protests and to the riots, I debated whether to postpone or rewrite this post. But I believe that all that has happened has only confirmed the message of this post. It is not only a toxic online environment (discussed in the following paragraph) but the toxicity flows through everyday life. Though I am leaving the post as is, consider how in your life, in your conversations, and even in your thoughts to put into action the 4 acts of love listed below. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the messed up church at Corinth, “Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14), so we should strive to do that. Then the healing can begin.
There is a toxic environment online. It seems to me, many people want to demonize the opposing view and those people with it. This usually seems to happen in political social media posts. Conversation, dialogue, and civility are missing. It is very much a “us versus them” environment with the “I am right and you are so very wrong” as the prevailing attitude. It is not a friendly environment. How do we change that?
I believe we change it with love. Christians know that God loves us and wants each one of us. Our job is to love others. Our lives are a witness of his love, and we need to share that love. Note true love comes from God. If love is self sourced it ends up being about one’s self, and that is not really love. I believe to change this toxic environment, we need to practice the 4 acts of love in the table below.
|When people say …||Imagine Jesus saying …||Christians practice …|
|“I feel judged.”||“You’re welcome just as you are.”||Radical Hospitality|
|“I don’t want to be lectured. You don’t care what I think.”||“Your thoughts are welcome; your doubts are welcome.”||Fearless Conversation|
|“Church people are a bunch of hypocrites.”||“We’re all in this together.”||Genuine Humility|
|“Your God is irrelevant to my life.”||“God is here, ready to connect with you a fresh way.”||Divine Anticipation|
Radical hospitality is about being welcoming to even your enemies. You do not have to agree with their ideas, lifestyle, or talk, but welcoming acceptance and respect of them as a person is one way to show them God’s love. There is no need to judge, rather there is an opportunity to dialogue and build a relationship.
Fearless conversation is about sharing and conversing without fear. There needs to be a lot of listening with questions asked to understand each other. The welcoming respect of the person allows one to not worry about the conversation. Be natural, authentic, and humble because God has this. There is nothing for you to prove.
Genuine humility means you can be yourself. You can be vulnerable, because we are all in this together. Humility is not defined as one’s shortcomings or by self depreciation. It does not involve comparing yourself to others. There is no judging. Rather “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but it is thinking of yourself less” (C. S. Lewis). Genuine humility is relational: meeting people where they are at; being open to learn from others; and being willing to admit mistakes.
Divine anticipation is recognizing that God is at work in our daily lives, and anticipating the work that God is doing around us and through us. Don’t be afraid. Tell your story in an authentic and natural way. Just love them and let God work. And remember to pray. God is ready to connect with you and with them.
Toxic environments can be overcome with love. Most of this information is from the book “Why Nobody Wants to be Around Christians Anymore” by Thom and Joani Schultz (2014).
2 thoughts on “Four Acts of Love”