Never read the comments. Anyone who has spent a few moments scanning the comments on a news story can testify – this is not a good idea! Our Governor has a news conference a few times a week and watching the chat comments is a spectacle! Whether it is a local news story or even a religious story carried by national press, the comment section is a good signal that what our country doesn’t have is clarity. Even something that is mostly read by church leaders can be challenging. Reading the comments in a popular blog written for church leaders revealed not only dissenting views, but sarcastic, biting, and even ignorant comments from people who are ostensibly leading churches. Scary.
There’s a brief and unexplained mention in 1 Chronicles 12:32 about some from the tribe of Issachar that is fascinating. “From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do...” Does that mean they had some special gift? Does it mean that they were naturally inclined to be able to see the outcome of decisions? Were they savvy or Spirit-led? Whatever was so outstanding about them that it warranted a mention, we need more of it today.
Maybe it was just a matter of having clarity … to understand … to know what to do. I know people who have a gifted sense of discernment. I turn to them when I lack clarity. It is always interesting to me that they seem to be able look past the things I’m concerned with to see a more essential factor that I’ve overlooked. Some days I’m cloudy, some days I seem to have clarity.
Clarity is difficult to achieve in our time because there is so much noise. Conflicting opinions, misinformation, mixed motives, emotional turmoil, tunnel vision, selective information gathering, and the world at our keyboard all contribute to a noisy experience in life. Even if none of it is audible.
It seems to me that we find clarity in the basics, not in the endless tangential issues and opinions we can be tempted to chase down. We we find ourselves drowning in the sea of opinion and conflict around us, maybe we can find some clarity by asking a few questions.
*What can I control about this situation? If nothing, then all of my worry and excitement about it are of no real value. If there is something productive I can do, then doing that should lower stress and help others.
*What can I say to diffuse the tension being experienced right now? If nothing, then it’s time to turn the noise off and pay attention to something that pertains to you. If you can help two parties bridge a gap or bring grace to a conversation, allowing God to use you in this way could be the path to take.
*What is the gospel mission in this moment? Aside from the conflict and raised voices (whether typed or spoken!), how do I bring the mission of Christ into this situation? It is more important that everyone involved experience salvation than that they are able to win an argument.
*Have I prayed about this and sought God’s wisdom? Too many times we are caught trying to engage humans without engaging the Divine.
*Can I distinguish between important and essential? There are many important issues being discussed today in our world – but in the end, are they essential? When the Lord returns, will He be interested in the discussion that is raising our passion today? If not, then I should be able to say that it may be important, but it is not essential – so there’s no need to exercise myself so much over it.
I don’t know if those questions give us clarity on every issue we are hearing / reading or not. But I do think they give us clarity on our position in the fray. As ambassadors for Christ, God should be speaking through us. Is that what it looks like? Then maybe that’s all the clarity that we need.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:20, 21. ESV