David Mills with some seriously counterintuitive wisdom here:
Don’t be nice to other Christians — specifically those in other churches than yours. God doesn’t want you to be nice to them. He doesn’t want them being nice to you. Bad things happen when everyone is nice to everyone else.
God wants us to be kind, respectful, generous, empathetic, to turn the other cheek and walk the second mile. He expects us to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ that way. But that’s not being “nice.” Being nice is when you say kind things to others that you don’t really believe, because saying nice things makes everyone feel good and get along. You talk about the weather to avoid talking about anything difficult. You can have a very pleasant afternoon when everyone is being nice to each other.
But no one leaves that nice afternoon closer friends with anyone else. No one leaves more committed to working with others because they spent the afternoon saying, “Lovely weather we’re having, Mrs. Jones.” They haven’t faced the elephant in the room. Talking about the elephant wouldn’t be nice. People might not feel so good or get along so well after talking about that elephant. Some people might yell or even throw punches. This is the way a lot of Christians have tried to deal with the differences.
No one talks about the elephant. Everyone acts as nice as pie. And the unexpected thing is that people being nice to each other don’t become friends and allies. People only find real friendship, life-changing friendship, by facing and working through their differences — un-nicely.
For divided Christians, the elephant in the room is all the deep, serious differences between us. The Reformation wasn’t one of those arguments that end with everyone happily agreeing to disagree. It was a fork in the road and the two forks have been getting farther and farther apart for almost 500 years. There’s a lot we need to talk about.
There’s more. It’s good.
Carry on. Not so nicely.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.