Page 357 has mostly been a day of rest, which is a good thing to have once in a while. Since I was up after midnight, today’s page technically began with my going to bed for the night. It felt good to be able to sleep in and Susan enjoyed sleeping in even longer than I did. My morning eventually began with the checking of email and social media messages while I kept a cup of coffee close by. I have friends who line up on every side of just about any topic, so my social media newsfeeds can become quite interesting. While I don’t agree with everything, I usually enjoy reading the differing viewpoints to better understand where people are coming from. Unfortunately, social media doesn’t seem to be a very safe harbor for discussions of opposing views. The discussion that takes place in the comments sections are often venomous and insulting at best and they go downhill quickly from that. The name-calling, vulgarity, and downright meanness escalates as the comments add up and it doesn’t seem to matter that one side is trying to claim a Christian perspective while the other is wanting a freedom from Christianity — the language and written tone is the same. One of the discussions seemed to be a lot of angry back and forth about Christ being taken out of Christmas with one side angry about the perception that the “world” has taken Christ out of Christmas and the other angry about Christians trying to define how the world should live. With neither side listening to the other, I’m pretty sure no opinions are being changed and that Christ isn’t being represented. As I went through multiple discussions that all seemed to be going the same way, the following little poem showed up in my mind.
Christmas is a time of year
when peace and hope prevail.
Or does the way we live our life,
tell a different tale?
For us to share of peace and hope,
first we must receive.
If it’s not ours to give away,
then who else will believe.
Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples by the way we love. I believe there is nowhere that the way we love is more visible than in the way we interact with those we disagree with. If our conversations, online or in person, are not seasoned with the grace we have received from God, it is highly unlikely that anyone will believe our message of peace and hope through Jesus Christ.
As the day wound down, I headed to the Riverwalk in Mishawaka to capture some photos of the setting sun. Today’s photo is one of the reasons I like winter photography. The snow covered ground provides a great contrast for the blue sky and vivid colors that seem intensified by the cold air. The wisps of clouds scattered across the sky add to the sunset as they provide texture and capture some of the color from the setting sun. Too many clouds and the sun is hidden from view with no sunset to photograph. No clouds and the sun drops below the horizon as a ball of fire with little color surrounding it — it can be stunning, but not usually the sunset picture I have in my mind.
I pray that you and I would be mindful of the way we present ourselves to the world. I pray that we would have great wisdom in understanding the when and how to interact with people we disagree with. I pray that we would hold fast to the grace of God in our life as we share the true Christmas message of peace and hope. I pray that our lives would be made of the right stuff to reflect well the light of God’s Word.