Anger has reached the boiling point in our country—and today it's obvious even on airplanes. Flight attendants now require special training in how to deal with unruly passengers. A recent article in Forbes magazine noted that 2,500 violent incidents occurred on commercial planes from January through May 2021—including one skirmish in which a Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost two teeth.
Meanwhile, violence is even worse on the ground. The murder rate in the United States rose 25% in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, and those alarming trends continue in 2021 in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Why are people so on edge? Some experts blame "pandemic fatigue," while others note that we live in a politically polarized society where people view looting, arson or gun violence as acceptable means of expressing their anger.
It has also become fashionable to lace conversations and social media posts with profanity. Whether it's talk radio, political television shows, Twitter, Instagram, online comment sections or street protests, we've developed the skill of dropping verbal bombs on each other.
We don't care how our words hurt people anymore. We've become vicious. Our love has turned to ice.
We are naïve if we don't recognize that this cold-hearted hatefulness is affecting Christians. I've noticed that believers today get offended more easily when something goes wrong at church. No wonder we have a huge percentage of Christians who are post-COVID church dropouts.
The world tells us that ending a relationship is as easy as hitting the unfriend button or canceling a celebrity because of something he or she tweeted two decades ago. But when I read the Bible, I don't see any room for outrage, resentment, intolerance or "cancel culture." Jesus calls us to love—and He gives us the supernatural power to do it.
Have you considered ending a relationship recently? Did you already walk out of a church, or break a close friendship, during the last two years? I know many people who have.
If so, examine your heart and ask these probing questions first:
— Am I giving up too soon? The apostle Paul told the Ephesians that they should "always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who try your patience" (Eph. 4:2b, TPT). Your love will never grow unless it is stretched—and the best way to stretch your love is to show kindness when you feel like slamming a door in someone's face.
We often give up on relationships because we don't want to exert the energy to improve them. Relationships require a lot of work. When you unfriend someone just because they hurt you, you are missing an opportunity to become more like Christ. Show some patience. Choose to love even when you don't get anything in return.
Ephesians 4:3 (NLT) says we must "make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace." The Greek word for "make every effort" means "to be diligent; to use speed; to be prompt or earnest; to labor." That means you shouldn't let wounds fester. Act quickly to repair the relationship before it gets worse!
— Would Jesus end this relationship? When you end a friendship because of an offense, you are doing the exact opposite of what Jesus did for you. Ephesians 4:32 (NASB 1995) says: "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." You will never understand God's merciful love if you don't show it to others.
Jesus loved us even when we were sinners, and He patiently drew us to Himself using "ropes of kindness and love" (Hos.11:4b, NLT). Before you end a friendship, judge a pastor, storm out of a church or "cancel" someone, remember how aggressively Jesus pursued a relationship with you. Let His ropes of kindness pull you out of your bad attitude.
When Peter asked Jesus how many times we are required to forgive a person, Jesus answered "seventy times seven" (see Matt. 18:22). Taken literally, that means 490 times—but Jesus wasn't proposing a mathematical solution. He was using the number seven to imply infinity. Stop counting how many times you have been offended and instead thank God for all the times He has overlooked your mistakes.
— Am I nursing a grudge? Today's culture of outrage tells us that anger is fashionable. Ranting is an actual genre of social expression. Our divisive political climate encourages people to get up mad in the morning, fuel their anger with hot political rhetoric throughout the day and then to go to bed after listening to more arguments on news broadcasts. We are literally poisoning ourselves.
Many Christians are mad that a pastor slighted them. They are jealous of someone who took a ministry position they wanted. They are angry because a Christian did something hypocritical—yet they refuse to admit that their bitterness is the ultimate hypocrisy!
Resentment is deadly. It actually can make you sick. Unforgiveness puts a frown on your face, wrinkles around your eyes and a sour tone in your voice. On the flip side, showing affection is healthy for you. Doctors have proven that a 20-second hug strengthens your immune system!
Don't let today's cancel culture infect you. Go against the flow of toxic hate. Make a decision today to work harder at relationships. Show some love. Forgive those who hurt you. Be diligent to preserve the unity of the Holy Spirit.
Read articles like this one and other Spirit-led content in our new platform, CHARISMA PLUS
For more information on how you can fight back against cancel culture, make sure to get a copy of what Charisma founder and CEO Stephen Strang says is his most important book yet. God and Cancel Culture releases Sept. 7, the day after Labor Day, wherever fine books are sold. Pre-order it at stevestrangbooks.com or on Amazon.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website, themordecaiproject.org.
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