What are Your Ground Rules?

 What are your ground rules?

 

Watching the news cycle is increasingly difficult not only because we’ve elevated opinion over fact, but we’ve also allowed vitriol and anger to run unchecked. As a person of faith, sacrificial love is the mark of the Christian. So much so, that the late Francis Schaeffer made this observation:

 

“I have observed one thing among true Christians in their differences in many countries: What divides and severs true Christian groups and Christians - what leaves a bitterness that can last for 20, 30, 40 years (or for 50 or 60 years in a son's or daughter's memory) - is not the issue of doctrine or belief that caused the differences in the first place. Invariably, it is a lack of love - and the bitter things that are said by true Christians in the midst of differences.” (emphasis mine)

 

The church as a whole, in the U.S., is failing this test. Observable deeds of love have been replaced by self-justifying words and deeds of anger, hatred, and defensiveness.

 

In recent meetings with international partners, I have heard that fewer international students feel that the United States will help them grow in to the people they want to be. This is indeed sobering.

 

Yet, part of that truth is related to the unrestrained nature of the commentary. The unwillingness for many to simply stop when something awful comes to mind before sending that tweet, that social media post, or that snide remark out in the world. Let me put it another way: are you violating your own ground rules? Do you have lines drawn that show you where your descent in to hatred and bitterness starts?

 

As a human being, I have had to take the news and tweets in smaller doses. The lack of love combined with the lack of restraint is toxic and acts like a stain that is increasingly difficult to wash out.

 

So, a few weeks back, I jotted down a few ground rules for myself and to put barricades up on the side of the road, that allow me to travel within the lines on some things. There are five of them and they are as follows:

 

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