“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:11-13

Jesus told His disciples that the best way for them to show love was to lay their lives down. Of course, He was foreshadowing His own death, and letting them know that sacrificing Himself willingly was the greatest show of love. As He urged them to do the same, I wonder what was crossing their minds?

Not many of us are asked to literally give our lives up for those we care about. Yes, we hear stories of heroic first responders, law enforcement officers, or Average Joes putting themselves in harms way. Most parents would give their children their life vest if they were on a sinking ship.

But in today’s highly opinionated world, I can see a different angle to this story.

When we see an argument on Facebook or Twitter, are we quick to jump in? If someone posts his or her opinion on a political or spiritual matter, or links to an inflammatory story, do we chime in with our two cents? When a ministry figure is publicly shamed, do we pick up our pitchforks and join in the fray?

What would Jesus have done?

Jesus didn’t defend himself to his accusers. He kept silent before them and let His miracles speak for themselves.

Jesus didn’t open old wounds, or inflict new ones. He bound up the brokenhearted.

Jesus didn’t shame. He said stop what you’re doing, and do better.

What does it accomplish when we who call ourselves The Church bicker and fight in public forums, in plain sight of those who are looking to us for the answers we claim to have? If we can’t decide whether it’s Godly to have fog machines and stage lighting, why would they think we know The Truth on a personal level?

If we join in the division this world already sees all around, how will they know that He prayed that the Church would become one as He was with His Father?

If we add our voices to the chorus of “I told you so,” how will they believe that we serve a God who forgives AND forgets their sins, who restores broken lives?

In America and many other nations we have a right to say what WE want. My question is, are we saying what HE wants?

I have personally had to learn this lesson over the past couple of years, as I have witnessed so many disheartening things take place in our country. But I’ve also learned that as much as I love the United States and am thankful for my freedoms, my first allegiance is to the Kingdom which will have no end. I am a citizen of the USA, but ultimately I am a citizen of Heaven. I am not bound to a political party, but to the King of Kings and it to Him that I will answer.

It’s not wrong to discuss social, political, moral, or spiritual issues. There is certainly a time and a place for such things. But God help us if we take our “right to speak” and let it become a stumbling block to the very friends and neighbors we say we’re trying to reach out to.