Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Watch Your Mouth!

Lectionary passage: James 3:1-12

This week's reading from James gives some pretty standard advice - watch your mouth! It resonated with people in the 1st century and it still resonates with us in the 21st.

As we see the rise of Donald Trump in the Republican primary race, he brings with him a brash, no-nonsense kind of talk.  He's not afraid to step on people's toes.  Quite frankly, this is what is making him attractive to many Republican voters at this point.  He is a political outsider that is willing to tell it like it is (or at least tell it from his outsider's prospective).

James says that we've tamed all manner
of ferocious beasts except for the tongue.
However, the very thing that makes Trump a contender in the early race is alienating him from some of the constituency he seeks.  While some find him refreshing, he is also viewed as brash, arrogant and rude.  Is it helpful for the leader of the free world to identify people as 'losers"? Yes, it is within your political rights as an American, but is it expedient to do so?  Trump identifies himself as a Presbyterian.  Conversing with people - even people you disagree with - in a respectful manner is something Christians promote.  This is a value we also promote in our nation's schools.  If you served in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, you learned it.  There is power in rhetoric.  There is power in how we address one another.

If Trump continues to lead in the primaries, his Christian brothers and sisters must press upon him the importance of this lesson.  If Americans begin to emulate his style in their interactions with one another, my fear is that the polarization of our country will get worse before it gets better.

I see this lesson so clearly in Trump because we are alike in a lot of ways.  There have been times in my life when I have verbally abused other people.  Some of it was done in jest and other times I was actually seeking to injure with my words.  Even though I may have come out on top in the individual encounter, I never won because when I resorted to this kind of behavior, I became the "loser."  

As I continue to grow in Christ, I find that I no longer have any enemies. I only have people that see things differently.  How I communicate with these people makes all the difference as to the reign of the prince of peace in the world - or at least our corner of it.

In Christ,


Photo taken by the author in Kruger National Park, South Africa, August, 2011.

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