Why Words Matter

“People are so angry.” My husband said.

A man was blocking the milk section at the grocery store. Another man wanted to get a gallon. Instead of waiting or gently asking the man blocking the milk to move back a little, the man needing the gallon of milk said very loudly and rudely, “EXCUSE ME!”

My husband met that angry man at the checkout station where the machine wasn’t working for him because he couldn’t wait. All I could think of as my husband shared his experience at the store with me was how words matter.

Memes, politics, words that joke about wishing people would die, etc aren’t powerless. It feeds a greater movement towards violence and hate. As a Digital Engagement and Disciple-Making Coordinator with WorldVenture, I wince when I see words and posts from people that divide rather than unite, and feel like our country is like our Arizona’s forests–a tinderbox due to drought ready to ignite with one careless spark. The drought, of course, is the lack of compassion, love, and self-control online combined with bible illiteracy.

Recently, I was watching Paul Apostle of Christ movie. The group in the Christian encampment wanted to take up their swords and storm the prison to free Luke and Paul. Paul said in the movie we must love, not retaliate. No matter how we feel politically, how we grieve for the state of our country on this fourth of July, we must remember that we are citizens of Heaven first and we are charged to love our enemies, our friends, and our neighbors. But, ultimately, words matter.

The angry man at the milk display, the impatience of the driver at the mall, and the fiery posts witnessed online are examples of the power of ideas and words. The world needs more Jesus and less anger. More importantly, we need to focus on exercising self-control online and have more conversations. Foster trust, not hate one post at a time. Learn to wait. Learn to stand in line. Learn to be helpful. Those are my thoughts today on this Fourth of July.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35