First things first, YOUR WORDS DO MATTER! Have you ever heard a speech or sermon where you walked away feeling inspired to go take on the world and accomplish your dreams? Have you ever heard one where you walked out of the room in the middle of the message angered not by what was said, but how it was spoken? If you can answer yes to either one of these questions you have experienced how what some people call the energy or “spirit” of a speaker can influence people as much as the actual words themselves.YOUR WORDS DO MATTER! Click To Tweet
Two preachers can preach the same text, use similar illustrations and listeners can walk away feeling completely different about the passage that was preached on. This is the power of words. The power, or effects, of our words are not just in the words themselves, but also the spirit (or as some would say, the “energy” attached to them). The letters that are put together to form words don’t have much power at all. There are several factors (not an exhaustive list) that lend to the power of words: the meaning we attach to them, the tone of the person speaking them and the authority they may hold to those who are listening. Such power has inherent responsibility.
This talk in the media of Donald Trump and the responsibility that comes with a person in his position and the rhetoric he uses in his campaign is legitimate. Anyone who has any influence, from parents and teachers to pastors to presidential candidates, must be held accountable for what they say and how they say it. This idea that the country is angry and it is healthy to tap into people’s anger with angry rhetoric is asinine. For those who claim to be Christians and are public figures themselves (the Donald Trumps and Sarah Palins of the world), let me share a verse that should cause some to pause and reconsider how profitable angry speech really is. James 1:19,20 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for THE ANGER OF MAN DOES NOT PRODUCE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.” I have often preached, “the mark of a Christian is not perfection, it’s correction.” True Christians will submit to Scripture, be corrected by it, and not try and justify that which violates it.THE ANGER OF MAN DOES NOT PRODUCE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD Click To Tweet
What Trump and his supporters don’t seem to understand when they keep repeating that people are angry and his speeches resonate with them is that, well, his supporters aren’t the only ones who are angry. He is fueling two types of fires. The fire in his group of supporters who are enamored with him or even admire him, and whose ideology lines up with his. Then there’s the fire of those whose ideology is in opposition to his. While his speeches may inspire some it certainly incites others. Again, to the Christians out there, humility understands this and takes responsibility for the potential impact on both sides. Humility says, “Let me tone it down a little so not to cause unhealthy responses in both my supporters and detractors.” Humility will reach out to see how can to reach the other side or those on the fringes, to win them over, convincing them that there policies and positions are good for all. After all, in that same book of James in the Bible (I love the practicality of the book of James), he says in verse 6, “God resists (opposes) the proud, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
By the way, this anger is not the result of one man (Obama). Neither will it be one man or woman (any of the current presidential candidates) who will cause this anger in America to recede. This culture of anger is long in the making. This anger has been building up for decades. What we saw on live television in Chicago at the Trump rally just a few days ago is the manifestation of years of extreme fatigue turned frustration turned anger of marginalized groups in America now going at each other’s throats sparked by the incendiary (my opinion) rhetoric of one man. The protesters are to be held accountable as well. They went to Trumps rallies with intentions of causing trouble not just to exercise free speech. They are not helping the situation any at all. But just like Trump supporters have the right to be angry, this is the unfortunate other side to the same coin. These protesters were incited by all the same remarks over the past nine months that inspired Trump supporters, and this is the result. You have to take the good with the bad when you are bold enough to “go there.”
I believe we actually needed Trump at this point in history. God has a tendency in Scripture to use very unconventional ways and people to expose things in a nation, particularly among his people in order to get their attention so to deal with major issues that may cause the decline of that nation, and would otherwise go unaddressed. After all, according to Scripture, nothing happens in this world that God doesn’t allow or is at least aware of and will call us to be a part of the solution. I think Trump exposes some things about this country that we don’t want to talk about. I will elaborate on those statements in my next blog this week.
As a preacher I have made mistakes in the tone I’ve used in preaching certain messages that have had a negative impact on some. Now, we can’t control how everyone receives our messages, but we can be aware and take into account the potential of the impact we can have on many of those who listen. You can’t just take credit for one side of the coin for those who seem to get hope from you. You must take responsibility for the other side of the coin with those whom you may hurt in the process. Sometimes the truth needs to be said, and even with love some will misinterpret what is said and be offended by it regardless.
In this Trump case, you can’t inspire some who are angry without inciting others who are just as angry and turn around and blame everyone but the messenger.you can’t inspire some who are angry without inciting others who are just as angry and turn around and blame… Click To Tweet