Just another day scrolling through Facebook, when I see a post that arrests me. I literally scrolled up and then back down in an attempt to make what I saw disappear or reappear with someone else’s name attached. How could it be that people I’ve known, sat with, worshipped with, prayed with could post such cruelty and ridiculously racist rhetoric.
It used to happen every once in a while, and I would attempt some inbox dialogue or pray that other leaders or pastors would be so alarmed that love would lead them to seek a conversation. The comments or posts would be so flippant, so dismissive of pain, so filled with malice or disdain for a people group, or an issue. Heartbreaking. Even when the people group or issue was not one that directly impacted me, I felt ashamed that the radical poster would share a hate filled message. As much as I wanted to scroll it away, or dismiss it – I couldn’t.
When does an opinion get so important to you that it gets elevated to the status of an idol? An opinion as an idol? It can happen.
Are you a slave to your opinions? Serving them at every point you get. Treating every interaction as if you must evangelize the minds of others to see things right – like you do. The dictionary defines an idol as, “… an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.” If you are wondering if your opinions have become an idol check out these signs:
1. When the need to promote your point of view puts love in the backseat.
You might be right about the issue, but without love you are just a sounding gong! When was the last time someone put on a sounding gong soundtrack, or invited a gong to be a part of an orchestra of beautiful music. NEVER. Gongs only care about sounding off, not joining in. Love brings a concert together when the sounds are contrasting, when the tones are competing – love brings together, not repels.
2. When the pride of feeling right entitles you to ruthlessly demean and denigrate and beat down others who think or feel differently.
Are your opinions moving from the issue to people? Are you determining who are idiots or geniuses simply based on who thinks like you? Do you feel so empowered by your rightness that you begin to actually dislike people who think differently than you? Do you ask people for proof of their feelings or for background evidence for how they feel? Do you feel like you are a judge on whether people are valid or not. Notice I said people, not their opinions.
3. When you no longer care how others may be experiencing the issue.
When your opinion does not take into account that others may be experiencing it differently. When your lens is the only prescription for thinking, then there will be lots of cloudy vision. Mainly your own. Especially if you are testing your lenses on people who think the same as you, you will never understand the vision of others – the different needs and experiences. You will miss out on a world of clarity, because you will never know that you can’t truly see.
4. When you put a ridiculous amount of time into worship and dedication to your opinion.
Opinion worship begins by believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth that you are right. Regardless of what others say or think, you begin searching out arguments, posting dissertation length rebuttals, telling people that the way they feel or think is stupid or wrong. You hurt to convert to your way of thinking. Your cause has taken the driver’s seat. Not faith, not care, not compassion.
Your cause is your god. Your fellow failed followers of that cause shout hallelujah. You think you are right. Your pride tells you that there is no way you can be wrong and that no other opinions count.
Remember Saul, chief persecuter of followers of the way. He was so convinced of his rightness, and his righteousness that he even sought permission from the court to persecute, imprison and arrest these believers. He watched a man stoned for this “foolishness” that would later be the cause he would willingly die for too, as the apostle Paul.
Zeal doesn’t make you right. Enthusiasm doesn’t make you right. Crowds of people who agree with you dont make you right. Being right about an issue doesn’t make you truly right.
We are kingdom people first. We love through disagreements. We listen through conflicts. We seek to understand more than to be understood, like that famous prayer of St. Francis. Why? Because we serve God, not our opinion. We are known by our love, not by our power and right-ness. And like Saul, who had to eat every word and action spurred on by his cause, what if we are wrong? What if when the scales fall off we see clearly about a person we once opposed or supported? What if there is truly no right and no wrong – then at least we will glorify God knowing we have loved.
We can love and disagree. We can be on opposite sides of a million opinions and still hear each other out. Because at the end of the day we don’t serve opinions – we serve an almighty God!
I would love to hear your thoughts and your prayer requests on loving beyond opinions. Thank you for reading.