Be Nice for a Change

EING angry doesn’t make your case any more appealing. There are indeed appropriate occasions for righteous indignation. But some people seem like they are always mad. At just about everyone. And about everything.

Last Sunday a photo of Ellen DeGeneres and President George Bush sitting next to one another at the Dallas Cowboys game went viral. The two are obviously on opposite sides of many issues. Why were they sitting together, many wondered. Ellen gives an explanation in the following video:

This was timely, as just last week I had a multifaith group from a university in Maine ask to interview me. The time slot that worked for them was in the middle of my C.S. Lewis course at Cedarville University. I asked them, and my class, for permission to do the interview over a speaker phone. All parties agreed.

What I hoped to illustrate with my students, and with the group of students from Maine, was the real opportunity to have meaningful conversations with people who hold very different perspectives. It isn’t only possible, it’s neighborly. It’s a demonstration of the sort of neighborly love that should characterize Christians.

Not long ago some students in my evangelism class attended a concert in Columbus, Ohio. While they stood in line there was a man on the other side of the street preaching to the crowd with a megaphone. My students eventually walked to the other side to try to ask the man about his methods and his message. Since they are studying evangelism, they were interested.

The man refused to talk to them. He kept telling them to go away. Once they crossed back over, he raised his megaphone and resumed yelling. Sadly, I think sometimes this is how the world sees most Christians.

We want to be heard. We just don’t want to be friends. That doesn’t look at all like Jesus, does it?

Jesus was close to many who were far from God. The religious folks didn’t care too much for that. But that’s alright. We should follow in His footsteps anyways. That means you might find yourself sitting down at a ballgame with someone who is on the opposite side of about every issue you care about: but you’ll do it because you care about them. And that’s a great place to start.