Friday, October 2, 2009

Respecting Our Opponents

This summer Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was asked what she thought about the town hall attendees who were voicing their opposition to the health care reform proposals. Her response was, “They are Astroturf.” While watching video of some of the town halls I saw one man standing nearly face to face to his U.S. Senator. He was looking him squarely in the eye, waiving his finger and angrily yelling his message.

The name calling of Pelosi and the disrespectful attitude of the man were both equally wrong and shouldn’t be championed or rationalized. There is no justification based on the person who said it, the position they hold or where it was said. There is also no justification based on the issue or group it’s aimed at. It’s wrong for the left and right, democrats and republicans and for liberals and conservatives.

I know there is admirable intent in the passions we have and causes for which we stand. We want to do what is right, stand up for others and speak out against those who do otherwise. No doubt, the message we have is important. We want it to be heard. However, the reason our message may not be getting through could be that our manner of delivery is offensive.

When Jesus lived on this earth He faced strong opposition to His life changing message. Yet, He successfully communicated it without compromising His godly character. What can we learn from Jesus? First, his own heart was pure and conscious clear before God His Father and others. Second, he was empty of any bitterness or unforgiveness towards his critics. Third, He never tried to exalt Himself by cutting down others. Fourth, He truly loved His opposition. The honest intent of His heart was to see them changed versus destroyed. It is written, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (The Bible, Romans 12:21, ESV)

Jesus was truthful, firm, humble, forgiving and loving in the midst of a fierce battle over the message He brought. May the example of Jesus Christ give us hope for today as we passionately stand up for what we believe.