Responding, not reacting
On the subject of the Grantleigh artwork, let’s think a little about the storm of activity in response to the art exhibition; perhaps we can work out something useful about how to approach similar incidents in the future. We know there will be opportunities to apply our learning 🙂 I would like to suggest using the phrase “ThinkThruTalkThru” as a bit of a motto …
Let’s think: One of the things we should be asking ourselves is why exactly are we as Christians upset? Can we name the particular reason underneath our outrage, and underneath that, until we come to the core? Can we bring it before God honestly and ask – Is this an important truth or an idol we hold dear? Are we prepared for God to change us in this uncomfortable process? Are we taking a statement about society personally? Could we be taking something at face-value when it is meant as an abstract metaphor? Is there anything we can learn or apply from this trigger – what part of the message can we affirm? What part do we disagree with?
Once we have established with God’s help what it is that has upset us, we can move on to what we are going to do about it. The Bible gives us guidelines that encourage us to talk things through, first under 4 eyes, then 6 and then in the community. We start with the person who has upset us, and then widen the circle gradually. We are exhorted to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Loving my neighbour as myself in the midst of a conflict situation means I try and think about the needs they are bringing to this interaction. And I realise I cannot do this on my own, but only with God’s help. In the book of Corinthians people who disagree are encouraged to sort things out relationally, not in the public courtroom. I would venture to suggest that social media is regularly used as a public courtroom in our day and age.
We also need to zoom out a little and give some thought to how the way we disagree with others will influence the world and reflect on the wider Christian body. Are we being salt, demonstrating that it is possible to be angry and not sin, in the midst of a culture of escalating violence or are we adding to the atmosphere of outrage? Are we being light, drawing people towards Christ, or are we being darkness detectors, abrasively wielding words of condemnation before we have all the facts? What action will truly glorify God and extend Grace? What action will result in the devil having a party to celebrate division and derision?
Matthew 18:15-17, James 1:19, Matthew 22:39, 1 Corinthians 6, Matthew 5:13-16