In a society where people are at war with each other across continents as well as across the street, I’m used to finding myself stay silent in debate. This can be a good thing. People can’t tell you that you’re wrong if you don’t say anything. Bringing up your opinions can evoke some hostile (or at least emotionally charged) responses, so sometimes it’s best to be quiet.
Like many others, I stay quiet to keep peace. This can’t be all bad, Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. Sometimes I have questions but I don’t ask them, for fear of looking unintelligent. And the more I talk to people, the more common I realize this is. No one wants to be viewed in a negative light. And in a world where most of our lives are so public on the internet, we can’t afford that risk. But Jesus doesn’t want us to stay quiet to keep up an image. We don’t to impress others. I address this issue in an earlier post, You Don’t Need To Be Liked.
We are called “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Some people read this and ask what it means. I’m not a historian and so while I can’t give the complete historical context, I do know that salt is valuable. It was used as a preservative. And, salt flavours and changes food. People who are salt flavour and change the people around them. But if I do nothing, I’m not flavouring the conversation anymore. We’re allowing in the potential not to be changed by God, but by man. We become diluted.
However, since I’m so used to not speaking up, I’m sometimes not sure what exactly my opinion is. This can be with politics, matters within the church, or other social justice issues. Sometimes I know how I feel but I don’t know how to put it into words. And if I’m flavouring the conversation around me without knowing myself, what is the flavour I’m giving off? Is it flavourless or diluted? Other people may not know I’m just trying to learn what exactly is fact and what is opinion.
I recognize that staying on top of what is fact vs. opinion is important. But I think, like others, I struggle with keeping the two separate. It’s hard to have one without the other. And since I often rely on intuition and emotion to make decisions, debate makes me uncomfortable because it drains me. It’s like two people using their words to persuade the other, but also to confront. They’re playing both sides of both the offensive and the defensive, like sport. So while others may find debate invigorating, I need to rest afterwards. Or rather, that means, avoid discussion. And yet, I realize that debate is important and necessary for progression.
Avoidance solves nothing. It can result in discord between friends, in prejudice; it can even break up the church. See my last post regarding denominational prejudice.
As Christians, we need to remind ourselves (and I need to remind myself) that Jesus didn’t shy away from debate. As Christians, we like to be nice and try not to step on people’s toes (especially as Canadian Christians – can I get an ‘eh’-men from the back?). But while being Christ-like certainly does involve serving others and caring for them, it also means that we must stand up for the truth. And so, we must seek the truth. And so we must get in the debate-game – with tact, a prayerful attitude, but also without fear. Because as long as we put Christ first, we needn’t fear. I’m going to try baby steps.
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