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Price America Pays When Christians Throw Stones

Price America Pays When Christians Throw Stones

Partisan extremism is on the rise in America.  Gone are the days where moderates capture votes across party lines.  Artificial Intelligence threatens to further push centrists toward the fringes.  Christians contribute to divisiveness when they point fingers, something Jesus did only at those passing judgment on “sinners”.  When religious leaders brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus, His response was, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone”.  With “hearts of stone” they reluctantly dropped their stones, but the Lord is seeking those with “undivided hearts”, unwilling to pick up stones, to stem the division in our nation.

Christians already face stiff headwinds, with mere articulation of biblical ethics deemed hate-speak.  That’s largely a consequence of lashing out on social media at those with whom we disagreed during the 2016 and 2020 Presidential elections.  Our ability to speak into our culture will diminish further if the tone of our responses to anti-Christian rhetoric reflects anger and not the love of Jesus.  In 2024, we must choose a “ground attack” of kindness, not an “air assault” of dropping verbal bombs on political “opponents”.  However, so far in this election season, that’s not the case.

Throwing Stones

For Christians, the upcoming Presidential election shouldn’t just be about “Biden 2024” or “Trump 2024” but Acts 20:24.  There’s no guarantee your candidate will win, but you and America triumph when Christians die to self and sacrifice on behalf those Jesus died and sacrificed to save.  Our nation’s hope lies in churches and Christ-followers electing spiritual imperatives over political allegiance.

The Equal Opportunity Offender

Don is a faithful husband, dedicated dad, loyal employee, and dutiful deacon at his church.  On paper and in his own mind, Don checks all the “Christian” boxes.  Yet those who know Don well or talk to him for any length of time have heard the questionable comments.  A spiritual veneer cracks under the weight of proverbial stones he carries and throws at those who don’t share his conservative political stance on social issues.  It’s not a stretch to picture Don escorting the woman caught in adultery into Jesus’ presence – and difficult to imagine him joining the others in dropping their stones.  No group is safe with Don – anyone with an “unbiblical” perspective on any topic is fair game.  What he fails to realize is that his anger doesn’t qualify as biblical either, and certainly doesn’t mirror the Savior he claims to follow.  Don is vocal online and offline, not hesitant to express his views and confront those who disagree.  However, he’s less bold in sharing the truth of the Gospel with non-believers and isn’t active in serving the poor to offset the vitriol he spews at society.

The Closet Keyboard Warrior

Mark attends a public university where he’s not at liberty to express his Christ-centered world views in front of students or faculty.  The only place he feels comfortable speaking his mind (although behind an avatar and alias) is social media.  Free from restraints and filled with youthful exuberance as a new believer, Mark doesn’t realize the damage caused by airing opinions seemingly devoid of Agape love.  There are stones thrown in the tone of his posts and comments.  Mark comes across as combative to observers, eager to debate politics, parties, and policies with progressives.  Escalation is swift if an adversary dares to engage.  Stones fly in both directions, never ending with Mark or the other party persuaded or interested in pursuing a relationship.  He’s become increasingly aware of the division he’s creating and lack of progress he’s seeing, particularly in this volatile Presidential election year.

The Politically-Inclined Church  

Pastor Peterson doesn’t personally toss pebbles at a society hurling boulders toward America’s churches.  He doesn’t have to because churchgoers in his pews are doing that dirty work for him.  Members are friendly and kind to one another, but not evangelistic or compassionate within the community.  Pastor Peterson inadvertently built a culture of “us” (insiders) versus “them” (outsiders) by emphasizing sin in the world without addressing sin within his own congregation.  To retain and appease long-time members content with “how it’s always been”, he won’t risk rocking the boat by introducing externally-focused initiatives like personal discipleship, evangelism training, workplace ministry, or local missions beyond holiday “outreach” events.  As a result, the church’s mission and messaging misses GC3 (the Great CommandmentGreat Commission, and Great Calling), leading members to throw stones rather than using them to build bridges or turn them into bread (to feed the hungry).  Their disassociation and distance is contributing to division in his city and our nation.

Dropping a Stone

Those personas may sound extreme, but we carry stones anytime we lose sight of our sinful nature and draw lines in stone rather than circles in sand.  Fully grasping God’s mercy in light of our depravity means turning the other cheek as we’re being bombarded with stones rather than picking them up to throw back.  The only way Christians will regain our voice in the marketplace of ideas is to earn the right to be heard by loving our “enemies”.  Now is the perfect time, during this divisive 2024 election, for unexpected, counterintuitive acts and jaw-dropping gestures of kindness.

The Grieving Christian Longing for Unity
Mary is a mother of three concerned about what the future holds for her children in a United States where the states aren’t united because our churches are divided.  She’s active on social media and consumes a balanced diet of conservative and liberal news to gauge what messages are being incessantly fed to her teens.  As the 2024 election approaches, Mary is shocked to see avowed Christians more aggressive in backing candidates than campaigning for Jesus.  She and her husband have raised their kids in a biblical household as part of a church family, but she fears she’s already losing them.  Her college freshman mentioned how judgmental and exclusive Christians are when he came home for Christmas break.  Her high school junior has migrated into a new friend group that seems to have little interest in faith.  How long until her eighth grader, a video gamer glued to his phone, begins to question what he’s being told are “his parents’ beliefs”?  Mary believes the best hope for her kids and America is for Christians to drop their stones and demonstrate the unconditional love of Jesus through radical acts of kindness (prayer, care, and share) with those across the political aisle.  If Christians miss another opportunity to replace anger with Agape during this Presidential election cycle, Mary worries the damage may be irreversible.

The Disillusioned Disciple Frustrated with Politics

Stephanie endured “church hurt” and became disconnected from the Christian community.  She loves the Lord and would like to reengage with a family of believers who share the values she holds dear – joy, peace, kindness, and compassion.  Yet Stephanie isn’t seeing those characteristics in most communications by Christians in the social circles and networks she frequents.  She wonders how those who attend church services every week could be so focused on exterior appearances, actions, and words, not recognizing people for who they truly are internally – eternal souls made in God’s image in dire need of a relationship with her Father.  It’s that vantage point that fuels the diversity of Stephanie’s relationships, her willingness to serve those antagonistic to Christianity, and her boldness in talking about Jesus with anyone willing to listen.  Without compromising her principles, Stephanie navigates the tumultuous environment surrounding the 2024 election by seeking to understand and be understood.  Long ago, she made the decision to “drop her stone”, look in the mirror, and take Jesus’ challenge in John 8:7 seriously.

The Community-Minded Pastor Modeling Agape

Pastor Matthews strategically planted his church in an area where diversity is high, incomes are low, and political division runs deep.  Launching a year prior to COVID gave ample opportunities for his congregation to practice the compassion he preached.  The church is visible in the community, known for its selfless acts of generosity, which led to growth in membership and demands for Pastor Matthews’ time.  With greater responsibilities and more to lose came temptations to cling to what he’d worked so hard to build.  However, Pastor Matthews is determined not to lose sight of his original vision to love, unite, and serve the community where the Lord placed him.  In 2024, that requires combatting the mounting divisiveness over the election, keeping the congregation focused on Kingdom over democracy.  He reminds members they only get one vote for President but can cast countless “eternal votes” of kindness for neighbors.  Those eternal Kingdom votes have no expiration date, but a vote for President only lasts four years.  Pastor Matthews teaches that Jesus conquered division by rolling away a stone so we can’t confront partisan politics by picking up stones.

It’s Your Turn…

Join the Drop The Stone movement!  #DropMyStone is a national countercultural campaign urging Christians to reject resentment and embrace grace in the months leading up to the 2024 Presidential Election.  #DropMyStone seeks to reverse the trajectory of our culture, something no President is able or expected to do.  Let’s counter hate with love by praying, caring, and sharing with someone holding an opposing world view.  Then, in lieu of lashing out on social media, post those stories with the #DropMyStone hashtag and challenge 5 friends to follow your lead!

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