I’m an optimist. I believe it would be good to share that upfront. But, I’m not optimistic because I’m naïve (at least not completely) or because I think there isn’t evil in the world (my heart often proves otherwise) but because of the gospel. I desire to write about the hope we have in the gospel soon—that isn’t what this post is about, at least not directly. The gospel does, however, remind me of the hope we have even when everything seems to be in complete disarray.
Increased accessibility to the Internet and an influx of social media means news—any news—travels at lightning speed. There is so much that I would never hear about if it were not for twitter. A great example is the recent Reformed Rap controversy. I don’t follow the panel that spoke out against rap and would never have heard about this if a friend hadn’t posted it on Twitter. I’m not advocating that we discontinue sharing news, I’m simply stating the facts; we do not have to wait until the newspaper arrives to discover that something has happened in the world (local and beyond).
Often the news that spreads the quickest is controversial—someone said something or did something that wasn’t wise, was hurtful, or shameful. We hear about it for about a week or so and then it goes away. So can any good come from controversies?
Here are a few of my (personal) observations:
Conversation and Thoughtfulness
Our initial reaction when these controversies first spread is rage and disbelief. But at some point, thoughtful conversation emerges from the mountain of outrage. People begin to question motives, alliances, convictions, and even doctrinal statements. Thoughtful and helpful conversations that may have never happened begin to take place. There is an increased desire for unity and understanding. Necessary rebukes often emerge. There can even be repentance and forgiveness. We often see rebukes against the outrage—that’s a good warning too.
Often in these controversies I see men and women coming together to encourage the faith of the “man down”. I’ve watched people be deserted in controversy—but I’ve also seen men and women lovingly support the person who has failed or sinned or been misunderstood. (Let’s not assume that in private their supporters aren’t rebuking them.) On the flip side, I’ve watched people lovingly support the person or people who have been harmed. I believe during those moments there is a genuine display of mercy and love. We love our brothers and sisters in Christ. No one wants to see others fail—and if we do let’s repent of such evil and pray for reconciliation at all costs.
Repentance and Reconciliation
Often at some point someone repents and reconciliation begins to take form. This doesn’t happen all of the time (again, I’m optimistic but not completely naïve). But when it does, I’m convinced that Heaven rejoices. God is a God who reconciles. There isn’t anything greater that we need than to be reconciled first to God and as we learn the beauty of true repentance and are reconciled to each other, it brings glory to the Lord and shines light into the darkness. We are fallen and need God. We need the gospel every day. Controversies only highlight our need and repentance and reconciliation only highlight the gospel.
I’m sure there are other good things that can come from controversies. It would be idealistic to believe that we could begin conversations or discover news without it turning into a controversy. So when the next controversy rears its head, I will pray that the hope we have in the gospel will prevail. The good news is, God will win in the end. One day, we won’t have controversies—we will only have love for one another.