• Dana L. Butler

on social media politics and the Father’s heart


So. My Facebook wall has been an interesting place lately. If you’ve lurked around my page in recent weeks, you’ve likely witnessed some intense conversations. Full-on arguments even, complete with a small handful of accusations and insults that’ve made my jaw drop in shock.

In some moments, I’ve chosen to engage, to try to clearly, gently share my views while simultaneously hearing and validating the opinions of those who disagree. More often, I’ve remained mostly quiet, allowing my friends to dialogue among themselves while I’ve tried not to cave to anxiety (keepin’ it real, y’all) as tension and conflict mounted.

Several of you have so kindly affirmed my courage in sharing some of the thoughts I’ve put out there lately. You encourage my heart. Thank you. Truly.

And brave? Well, I might be. A little bit more than I was before. Hopefully.

BUT. I’ll let you in on something today, my friends:

Most of the time, when it comes to sharing a post that resonates with me (especially one with potential political implications), if I’m honest, I tend to share first, and think later.

My thought process is frequently something along the lines of, “Oh, YES — this person articulated my thoughts (on any given issue) SO much better than I could have.” So I share it, and though it’s often written in someone else’s words, I’m sharing a cross section of my soul with my friends.

And though I’ve been a little (or a lot) slow on the uptake, I’m beginning to see which of my views have implied ties to a particular political party (I know — duh. But seriously, I’m a heart girl, not a politics girl, and definitely not an argument-seeking girl).

I’m learning which of my convictions are likely to provoke intense responses from friends who disagree. And I’m learning — albeit slowly — to think a little harder before I share a thought that resonates with me.

It’s not necessarily that I plan to go silent, just that I’ve gotta determine whether I’m up for the conversation that might ensue if/when I do choose to share an opinion.

*****

Anyway.

Stumbling into all this accidentally-politically-charged dialogue on Facebook has gotten me thinking — how do people who passionately love Jesus — Christians whose spiritual walks I deeply respect — have such widely varying opinions (different from my own and from one another) on issues that I believe are massively important to God’s heart?

Abortion. Homosexual marriage. Care for the poor. Immigration. The death penalty. {I could go on.}

I’ve had this conversation over and over for years with Stan, and more recently with a couple of my close friends. We’ve pondered and wondered and questioned how in the world all these people who are genuine Christ-followers, who are in-dwelt by the same Holy Spirit, can come to such drastically conflicting conclusions on right and wrong (or on right and left, or on what views and values and morals are important to look for in a political candidate).

So I’m sitting on my bed this morning and I’m contemplating this question for the millionth time, and it hits me: Jesus must be interested in something deeper than getting everyone who loves Him on the same page on all this stuff.

Don’t get me wrong – I have strong opinions on every one of the issues I listed above. Opinions that I believe are close to, and in line with, God’s heart as expressed in scripture.

BUT — I also believe there’s an invitation from Him in everything. Every triumph and trial, every joy and sorrow.

An invitation in every disagreement — an invitation to more deeply experience His heart.

So what happens when my opinion, which I believe is in line with the heart of God, conflicts with your opinion, which you believe is in line with the heart of God? What if we try for a while to convince each other that your opinion is wrong, and mine is right, and we’re not getting anywhere except to make each other mad?

Stalemate. Right?

Well, maybe.

Maybe we argue a while, agree to disagree, bless one another, and walk away from the conversation.

OR. What if — not always, but every once in a while, if we keep our ears and hearts open — there’s a different road through all our confusion and conflict? One that will not necessarily change our hard-arrived-at conclusions, but will expand our hearts at a much deeper level?

What if we consider suspending our assumptions and our needs to be right?  What if we ask our “opponent” {read: friend} to share more of their heart, their perspective, their journey to arriving at said perspective…

…sit quietly…

…and listen? 

And what if we listen with true presence and attentiveness, choosing not to simultaneously pre-meditate our response to their story or our refutation of their opinion?

What if we find our security and identity and peace in Jesus (as opposed to in being right), to the degree that it doesn’t freak us out to really listen and consider an opinion that differs from our own?

What if our primary goal becomes learning from one another, instead of trying to change each other’s perspectives?

And in so doing, what if we find that, while our viewpoint on whatever issue may or may not change one iota, our roots have grown deeper into the heart of Jesus? That we’ve allowed Him to expand our own heart? Experienced intimacy with Him that can’t come in any other way than laying down our “right” to make our opinion heard?

What if, more than He desires conformity in our political perspectives, He wants to teach us to seek first to understand rather than to be understood?

What if His deeper interest is in deepening and expanding our capacity to really love?

Within the Body of Christ, unity is not equal to uniformity in doctrine or political views. Unity, I think, will come as we learn to lay down our pride, let Jesus expand our hearts, and listen to one another.

Unity will come as, despite — and even because of — our differences, we learn to proactively, humbly love.

It’s not all that difficult, most of the time, to love those who agree with us. Actively loving those whose opinions offend and challenge our own, though? That’s another story.

And I’m still learning, but you guys, I so want that to be my story.

Thanks for hearing my heart, friends.

I love y’all.

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