Monday, August 17, 2009

Christian civility

Over on Scot McKnight's blog they are beginning "an American civil discussion" on the health care debate our country (the United States) is currently engaged in. Pertinent posts here, here, and today's here.

This led me to the thought or the question, is there a true Christian civility? Civility is the idea of how we conduct ourselves in words and actions, precisely with courtesy and politeness. Our American culture is marked with rudeness. It seems like being rude has won the day nearly across the board, at least in perception, even if a silent majority squirms.

I would suggest that there is indeed a Christian civility, one that is truly like Jesus. One that does not cower from standing up for truth, but one that is full of grace as well as truth, in Jesus. This is a civility, and humanity that is indeed of God, made in God's image and patterned perfectly for us in Christ himself. One we see through reading of his life here on earth, and one we can partake in together, by the Spirit in community, for the world.

It is certainly a civility that is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. It involves a righteous life, one which we seek to lead through Jesus. It involves meekness in being willing to turn the other cheek, to be wronged, to let others have the last word even when we're convinced they are wrong, but speaking for the good of another even if it may seem detrimental to us.

An important aspect to remember that can tie this all together is the primacy of love. We know what the first and greatest commandment is, and the second like it, called "the Jesus Creed." If we seek day by day, through Jesus by the Spirit to operate with this creed, we seek to do well. And this will involve a respect for all as inherently special, made in God's image. Those whom God loves as his creation, and who he has, in Jesus, come to save. And those we care for and care about.

I am growing in this area. One of the ways that was important to me for growth was (and is) to seek to be more quiet; I can be full of words. And to be a better listener. And be willing not to speak at all. And to keep working on not interrupting others, even when it seems that I am counted out of the discussion, or can't get a word in edge-wise.

What about you? Do you think there is a Christian civility we can nail down from Scripture? And what is it? Or are we thinking in worldy terms here? Or any thoughts?


Dave J. said...

It stinks when the only way to be civil is to be quiet. It is usually the cause of the audience, not ourselves that dictates this.

James, Paul, and others may call for civility, but they almost seem idealist in saying we should unite in Christ. There are some who have made their faith and beliefs destructive, and whom I cannot call brothers.

I really enjoyed our conversation yesterday. Civil it was. Yet frank. We need more of that somehow!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Dave J.,
Yes. My favorite times in discussing is when we can all be ourselves, yet fully accepted. Even when at times we may have strong disagreements. That takes plenty of grace from God, and the Spirit as we endeavor to hold on to what really unites us, and will last forever- in Jesus.

Yes. I always enjoy conversations with you, though it is easy since I always agree- at the very least, essentially! :)