A couple of weeks ago, the pastor at Keawala’i Congregational Church — where we go when we’re on Maui — gave us all a heads-up. Westboro Baptist Church may picket them in the near future.
Westboro is the church that’s been known to picket the funerals of fallen soldiers, declaring to the grieving families that their children died as God’s punishment for America’s falling-away from God.
It appears the issue that has these people torqued has to do with a transgender student at a local high school, and they’ve already paid a visit to the island once to show how much they figure God is offended. Keawala’i, the pastor said, may be in their crosshairs on this second visit.
“So, if they do,” he said, miming giving someone a hug, “make sure you give them lots of aloha.”
A soft answer turns away wrath, / But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, / But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, / Keeping watch over the evil and the good.
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, / But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.— Proverbs 15:1-4
Wise words, both by the pastor and King Solomon. When someone is in your face with a disagreement, especially when they’re using Scripture quotes — or even a religious tone — to back up their position, our “fight or flight” response kicks in, and our desire is to meet them on their level.
But Jesus Followers are advised (if not commanded) to overcome that fleshly reaction and defuse the situation with a “soft answer”, or, as Paul writes,
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.— Romans 12:21
If a person’s argument is not founded in love of God or love of others, love the person anyway: lay out the welcome mat, offer them a cup of coffee and a place to sit down. Don’t try to engage them argument-for-argument. because their own “fight or flight” response will kick in and you’ll never get anywhere.
And pray that God will take control of the entire situation. Remember that just because you disagree, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
I haven’t mentioned my book, God At Work – a Testimony of Prophecy, Provision and People Amid Poverty, for a while. That’s because I had another think about it and re-worked it a little. Basically, after reading Charles Price’s foreword and doing an interview with John Fischer on his BlogTalkRadio show, I realized they were focusing on the stories of the Downtown East Side, rather than the building of The Lord’s Rain. So Part The Second is now Part the First, and the book is back in circulation. It’s available by clicking on the link above, or online through bookstores.