Christmas gatherings are a wonderful time to deepen our relationships with family and friends. They can also be a time of tension and division. Recently someone forwarded me an article written by Ron Hutchcraft. He writes, “Do not allow yourself to be dragged into the issues that are dividing and polarizing people. Many of them are political, some of them are medical; these are things that have become larger than the importance of the relationship.”
The Bible says that as much “as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). So how do we do that this Christmas? Hutchcraft gives three keywords to avoid unnecessary arguments: pray, tone, and focus.
Talk to God before talking to others. Ask Him for his direction and wisdom in dealing with potential divisive conversations. Pray about the issues that concern you, your family, and your friends.
Paul, amid an apparent conflict, wrote, “ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Eighty percent of our communication is tone. It is not what we say but how we say it. Colossians 4:6 says to “let your conversation be always full of grace…” No matter what hot topic is brought up, decide in advance to let your tone be gracious and kind.
“If you are a follower of Christ, how should a person feel when you have been with them? They should feel like they’ve been treated gently, and [with] respect – even though they might disagree with what you had to say,” Hutchcraft says that “in a lot of our Christian communication out there, I don’t hear respect. I hear anger, pride, and judgment. Instead of looking for what you disagree on, look for common ground. Is there something you could affirm? It might be only 10-percent of what they said.”
Stay focused on the relationships, not controversy. That is sometimes easier said than done. If pressed and you know your opinion would cause division, “just say, ‘You know, there are a lot of different views on that, and I just prefer not to join in that conversation,” Hutchcraft says. “Tell your loved ones you pray about [these issues] because you know they’re important, but you value relationships too much to get involved in a lot of conversation about them.”
The point is that the person matters more than a position they may hold. You may win an argument but lose a relationship.
BEFORE YOU GO
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Just a reminder that the Conference office is closed next week.
Adapted from the following blog post: https://rb.gy/81lmnv