Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Graciousness”
Our Bible verse for today: “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear …” 1 Peter 3:15-16 (HCSB)
Our thought for today: “There is hope.”
Yesterday we gave some thought to the shrill and unkind tone which underlies much of the national conversation in our nation these days. I mentioned a Bart Simpson-like sense of snarkiness which seems to have taken hold of many people. I noted the mean-spirited nature of the political dialogue in our nation’s capitol. And I pointed out that God’s people should be different, that we should be people who are known for our gracious manner, for our warmth and kindness and compassion.
Sadly that’s sometimes not true of Christians. Far too often we allow ourselves to get emotional and angry when it comes to hot button cultural issues, and we allow our rhetoric to become overheated and caustic. Sometimes angry Christians are the ones with the sharpest tongues.
But there is hope. In fact, I’m actually encouraged. A few years ago I was at a conference of church leaders in Nashville. The conference was sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The title of the conference was “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” There were over two thousand church leaders there from forty-eight states and five countries. The general sessions and the workshops covered a large spectrum of issues related to Biblical sexual ethics and there was a lot of discussion about the rapidly evolving cultural landscape in our country with respect to sexual ethics.
The conference leaders invited spokespersons, leaders, and authors from the Gay and Lesbian movement to attend and to participate in the discussions as well. There were also liberal professors and left-leaning news media invited. The object was to create an atmosphere where all sides of the issues were fully and fairly presented so that honest dialogue could then take place.
What impressed me most about the conference was the kind and respectful tone of the discussions. There were no pulpit-pounding hellfire and brimstone sermons; there was no angry finger pointing; and there were no chicken-little types running around crying about the sky falling. Instead the discussions were conducted in kind and respectful tones. Everyone was measured in their speech, the points were well-reasoned and logically presented, and there was a spirit of mutual respect all throughout.
I will tell you more about this conference in tomorrow’s devotional. For now it’s enough to know that there is hope. As Christians we can do what Peter called for in 1 Peter 3:15-16. We can stand for truth and we can contend for Biblical principles while being kind and gracious in our manner, even when dealing with emotionally-charged cultural issues.