When everyone in from politicos to social media flame throwers express their views, the intent is to bring an edge to the conversation. Yet, when so many bring that edge, is it still, well, edgy?
What’s missing from so much dialogue is true encouragement to engage not only the truth but to speak in a manner that upholds those who agree and disagree as full-blown imagebearers of God that have value regardless of race, creed, tax-bracket, or ideology.
By encouragement, I do not mean to encourage someone in their ideology if that ideology leads them down a problematic rather than a primrose path. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul exhorts the Thessalonian church to παρακαλεῖτε one another–this has been translated comfort and encourage. The word also has that shadow of paraclete which is a descriptor of the Holy Spirit which means to “call alongside.” Encouragement is about comfort, exhortation, and appealing to someone.
We live in a gotcha culture where even those who name the name of Christ are ready to pounce on those who stray from their particular prescribed path. Popular polemics blogs exist in order to engage in debate, yes, but also to lunge forward and attack all under the umbrella of “discernment.” Yet, the way these ministries and many ministers go about this aspect of discernment shows (1) an absence of grace toward those who disagree with them, and (2) increases the division among the body.
Encouragement does not mean you over look character inconsistencies and doctrinal heresies because, to you, encouragement may mean to always make someone feel good about whatever they may be doing. On the contrary, encouragement means that you are giving them courage and appealing to them to pursue the right course.
There’s a difference between winning an argument and winning a soul or gaining a friend. Polemics is edgy and provides a sense of accomplishment and even victory. But at what cost?
Let’s blaze a trail. Let’s encourage in a biblical way. There is much more to gain and less to lose.