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There are many in this world that think that the only way to get what they want is through force.  Some will choose violence to get what they want and what they think is right.  Violence can come in many forms – physical, verbal, mental, emotional, etc.  It can come through dehumanizing comments, how people are treated, and by destroying property of targeted groups and individuals.

And we have a choice of how we respond.

There are many in this world who live their life in fear – fear of “those” people who are coming here.  They fear they will lose something – maybe the status quo, maybe some kind of rights or privlege, maybe a job or a job opportunity, maybe their definition of “normal.”  And so these people who live by fear and in fear strike out.  When someone feels cornered, sometimes they strike out.  Especially when that person had authority, or power.  They have lost their status and get angry about losing it.

And we have a choice of how we respond.

Yesterday I saw a video that showed a “Christian” family videotaping themselves going around degrading a Mosque – teaching their children hatred of Muslims and tearing down fliers about the Mosque.  There was dehumanizing language about Muslims.  This video was on Facebook, and it was meant to show how some people are hate filled.  Unfortunately, all these videos really do is give free rein to the message that is being proclaimed – a message of hate.

And we have a choice of how we respond.

We can respond in kind – saying all sorts of terrible things about this family.  We don’t have to think very hard to come up with some very harsh comments, belittling statements.  We don’t have to work very hard to dehumanize the dehumanizers.

But does that make us any better?  Or are we just using the same tactics that have been used – an in doing so, legitimizing the approach?

Oh how badly I wanted to let my comments rip this family a new one.  Oh how badly did I want to label them.  Oh how badly did I want to respond in anger.  Oh how badly.  My insides were hot with rage.

And yet, we have a choice of how we respond.

As I was watching, willingly exposing myself to this anger and fear, a small voice inside me whispered a passage of Scripture – 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

The whisper was powerful and strong in a different way than the anger.  It offered words that touched the very heart of me.  It offered words that I needed to hear.  It offered words that others needed to hear.

And so I posted parts of this passage of Scripture in the comment section, along with a prayer.  A prayer that highlighted a response of love.

We have a choice in how we respond.

We can’t control what others will do, but we can control how we respond.

For those of us that are Christians, or Christ-followers, the question is this – do we really believe Jesus?  Do we really believe that love will win?  Do we really that peace is a way of life and not a destination – it is the now, not someday?  Do we really believe that love will conquer?  Do we really believe that 1 John 5:3-5?

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Do we really believe?

We have a choice in how we respond.

Here is what I will be doing going forward, when I see a disturbing or upsetting or angering or fear-filled article, video, or comment – I will be responding to it with Scripture and prayer.  I don’t promise that I’ll do this for everything – but for ones that I feel a response is necessary.

We don’t stop fear and anger and violence and hatred and prejudice and the -isms through fear and anger and violence and hatred and labeling.  We stop it by changing the focus completely.  You can’t put a fire out by adding more gasoline.  You can’t stop a war by dropping more bombs.  You can’t stop shootings by adding more bullets.  You can’t stop hatred by adding more anger.  You can’t stop fear by adding more anxiety.  You can’t stop dehumanizing by dehumanizing in response.

You stop it by changing it – you change how you respond.  You change how you talk and interact.  You change how you show respect.  You change by loving, being peaceful, offering mercy and grace. You change without expecting others will change, but inviting them to change too.  Jesus didn’t confront the Empire or the Temple authorities by using violence.  He didn’t use the same tactics that those in authority used.  He presented an alternative way of living, and invited others to participate in this way of living.  And by doing so, he change the world.

We have a choice in how we respond.

I choose this.  I invite you to join in.  Especially if you are tired of being angry, living in fear, and being upset at the world.  There is another way.  You don’t have to be fluent in Scripture – you can google passages that seem appropriate to the situation.  If you are going to respond, respond out of faith and love.  We have a choice in how we respond.

Live the way that Christ calls us to live.  Some will join in, some won’t.  You can’t control it.  But there will be an impact.  It’s how the world is conquered.

We have a choice in how we respond.  Respond well.  Offer a response that changes the world.