When I look out at the landscape of society, it seems like people are getting pushed into opposite corners.
Years ago, before social media, we used to be friends with all kinds of people, discovering some of our differences as relationships progressed and, sometimes, never even knowing where each other stood on polarizing issues. Now, we know everyone’s political party affiliation, religious beliefs, and how they feel about the latest news or controversy from their new profile picture, updated status, or latest post.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who admitted that there are many people she meets that she likes, but once she sees their social media activity, she develops a negative opinion of them, and, honestly, doesn’t want to be friends with them anymore.
More issues increasingly push us in different directions. Politics is the clearest dividing line, but it’s not the only one. In our churches, we’re divided over the best style of worship music for our Sunday services. In our schools, we’re divided over the most effective ways to teach math to elementary school students. Even in our workplaces, we find ourselves divided over issues.
The worst part about the division is that it typically forces individuals to have one of two reactions: 1) they are loudly passionate about their convictions, or 2) they are compassionate to the point of cowardice.
I find that that the individuals who appear firm in their convictions, often come across as angry. Their tone is harsh, and they talk like they have a bone to pick with anyone who disagrees with them. They are certainly firm in what they believe, but they’re unloving and, sometimes, flat out rude.
On the other hand, my friends who display more compassion on the surface, seem like they don’t have a spine. They are kind and loving to other people, but they waver in their beliefs, neither unsure or unwilling to actually stand for something.
Rick Warren diagnoses this problem and offers a solution for us:
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
“You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren @KevinPaulScott
This post is a plea for all of us to exercise compassionate conviction. I believe it’s possible to stand for what we believe and still love people well. In fact, if we are serious about our beliefs, this is the only way we will ever win others to our side.
Don’t buy the lie that you either have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate, or that you must distance yourself from anyone who disagrees with you.
Compassionate Conviction. Convictional Compassion.
Call it whatever you want; our world needs more of it.