Barbed Wire Fence

Howie Homestead Fence Line.

Following the past election cycle, (2012) I saw something in myself which concerned me. No doubt, many of my gracious friends and family have known this about me for a long time but I am sometimes (believe it or not based on my body profile) a little slow at coming to the table. Prayerfully, I decided to break away from my typical outspoken, opinionated, arrogant self to remain (almost) silent over the past few years about political ‘things’ while interacting on social media. My ‘absence’ was unannounced (funny how silence works that way) and is not significant enough to have made any difference, truly I am not so arrogant as to think it was even noticed by anyone, but I have been quiet on social media so I can just observe. For now, I will break the silence long enough to share (for what it’s worth) my observations but I will do my best not to tread on things of a specific political view. So, from the ‘for what it’s worth’ corner of my square brain, I offer the following observations.

I’ve noticed there are a lot of people who have not honed the skill of critical reading. (I have theories as to why this is the case but I won’t share them so as not to bore the two or three who may read this post in entirety.)

Many people sift through ‘information’ to find a tid-bit or nugget to prop up their preconceived theory or position while ignoring the greater context.

Intellectual integrity, in my opinion, is greatly shown in the measure of graciousness one affords for a differing view.

Absolute truth is cast away, with absolute certainty, by some for the oft touted ‘sophisticated’ idea of truth as fluid and changing.

The thoroughbred of genuine, intellectual discourse and debate, is almost lost in modern society and has been traded for something of far lesser pedigree.

For some folks, feelings are everything.

Social media is an interesting experiment. It is my observation, a lot of people (myself included) have become far less ‘social’ over the past decade. Restaurants used to have an ambiance about them which allowed social interaction and conversation with folks as they enjoyed a meal together. Not so much anymore. Many restaurants blare music in order to ease patrons from the burden of conversation and even offer wifi to allow people to stare at their phones and ignore the persons with whom they are seated so they can post a picture of toast online.

One more observation. Our great nation suffers from a serious division which must be healed if our Republic is to survive. I’m not speaking about political division… American politics wield division as a sword to leverage a particular agenda. The division of which I speak goes far deeper than political party affiliation and carries a longevity of impact far greater than election cycles. Our nation suffers division because the only bastion of genuine hope in this world has, in large measure, faulted in its purpose.

Christians (in general) have missed the mark of our calling and the signs are all around us. Over the past 8 years it has become clearer to me than ever… people are seeking hope and are tired of their circumstances. Many cannot articulate why they are driven by this pursuit for hope and, sadly, the Church has allowed the carpetbaggers and drummers of the political arena to sell ‘hope’, something they know precious little about. Lots of folks misplaced their trust, and lest you think I am speaking of ‘them’, let me be clear… a whole lot within the Church are guilty of this as well. While lots of Christians have been preoccupied with things of no eternal value, the hurt of people around us has been compounded by those who know nothing about binding up wounds or genuine healing. It breaks my heart to see some Christians further compound the hurt of others by employing behavior & speech which creates deeper wounds and then celebrate it as a victory while the wounded limp away from them.

During the American Civil War our nation suffered a very similar divide and, likewise, faced a similar moral & spiritual dilemma. Nearly all of the major denominations of Christianity suffered division during this period because Christians lost clarity of their spiritual calling. The Restoration Movement suffered almost no division during this era simply because they were driven by truth and remained focused on their eternal purpose.

Christians… for healing and restoration to occur we must wake up! With this in mind, and based on my above mentioned observations, I humbly suggest the following for consideration.

If ‘your’ candidate won, don’t gloat. From a purely non-spiritual perspective, we are all Americans whether we agree on all things or not. Be the gracious person and reach out with genuine friendship to others whenever possible. Keep in mind, for some of you this will require taking off your hat and extending a sincere apology for acting in an ungracious and unbecoming manner. We are still required by Christ to be humble, aren’t we?

Focus on the ‘main thing’. People need Christ because genuine, sustaining hope is only found in Him. Political promises are worthless but the promises of Christ are reliable beyond measure. Share the hope of Christ and act as if you know what you’re talking about.

Allow your speech (or social media posts) to be seasoned with the grace of Christ and use words with caution. Sensationalistic and brash behavior may win a few high fives but in the broader audience they tear at credibility and seldom show the true spirit of Christ.

Mending fences is a tiring and unending task for the rancher… but it is necessary. Mending fences is humbling because you feel the pull of the line and realize you aren’t as big as you think you are. Sometimes the wire is beyond repair and needing replacement in sections and most of the time it is a tangled up mess at best. At the end of the day, as you look down the row and see a nice, taught and straight wire, you have a sense of accomplishment couched by the perspective of only a small staple or wire tie holding the integrity of your labor in check. Fence mending is tough work but it makes for much better neighbors. It’s time to do the hard thing, the humble thing, the necessary thing… and mend the fences which have been long ignored.

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