I have many conflicting emotions about what happened in our country the week of November 8, 2016. I've read dozens of articles and posts and comments trying to sort out the mess of how I feel. I've ridden my own emotional waves through disbelief, grief, joy, mourning and anger -- and still don't know where to land. One of the best and worst things about me is that I can see almost any situation from a variety of sides, so see the sides I do. The problem is that it leaves me where I began: conflicted.
But perhaps the emotion that's risen to the top more often than not is a profound sense of sadness. Sadness and disappointment over many things, but for this moment, the way good people have turned on one another because they don't see things the same way.
A few days ago, I was cleaning out my inbox and came across an email from Andy LePeau, writer, editor and retired associate publisher at InterVarsity Press. He wrote the letter in February as his parting words from a job in which he spent decades, with more than 40 years of experience to back up every word. It was a challenge to the many authors he served, and to the ones that IVP will continue to serve -- me -- to live as a true image bearer of Christ. Although it was written 7 months ago, it couldn't have been more timely. It was exactly the word of truth I needed.
I wrote to Andy, thanking him for his wisdom, and asked if I could share a portion of the letter here. He graciously agreed. You can find the letter in its entirety at Andy Unedited, one of the few blogs I read consistently -- and learn something from (usually while chuckling) each time.
I hope you'll accept his challenge as well, and find conviction and encouragement in his words.
"We live in a world awash in conflict. Nations, ethnic groups, religions, political parties, churches, families are all at odds--which the media loves to highlight in its never-ending competition for audiences that have been broken into smaller and smaller groupings.
Too often we as Christians have followed the world's pattern in expressing more extreme views, less charitable opinions and angrier commentary. We listen to a narrower and narrower range of viewpoints that we find comfortable, that we agree with, that affirm our biases. As a result, we fail to communicate the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness that we say is at the core of our faith. If we are to be representatives of Christ, we need to be willing to engage different people and differing opinions with grace, openness and respect.
When we interact with those who are different we can pretend our differences don't exist or that they are insignificant. But that doesn't really take others seriously. Alternately we can simply attempt to defeat others, assuming the worst motives on their part and not seeing them as people, not taking the time to really understand their viewpoint.
But there is another way that both takes differences seriously and takes the humanity of those we differ with seriously. This is the way of Christ who embraces both grace and truth.
Perhaps you think I am preaching to the choir. But that's not the way I see it. The way I see it, I am preaching to an auditorium of preachers. My charge is for you not just to practice the gospel of peace but to preach it. Model Christian civility and encourage others to pursue it."
Thanks Andy. Praying grace, truth, peace and civility for all.