By now, most of us have had a discussion, perhaps even an argument with someone who disagrees with you about vaccination. Maybe a family member, or someone in your own church.
Maybe, someone, you thought you agreed with about everything. Until now.
Maybe their response to whatever you maybe just alluded to took you by surprise.
Have you had to retreat a little when someone has responded to you unexpectedly strongly? I have.
Have you suddenly realised you might be about to break a relationship? I have.
Have you turned and looked for common ground – a shared faith in Jesus? I have.
As we all walk the path out of lockdown, and we have all been in some sort of lockdown even if it is just not being able to leave our state, discombobulated is the word.
And just a little discombobulated, feeling a little weird or uncertain is where everyday Christianity is at right now.
Not sure what to say about this big thing that’s happened to all of us. Not sure if someone will take offence.
Aware that coming on too strong may drive someone further into a view you think is wrong or dangerous.
Aware that many of us are taking this really personally.
Aware that we are all fragile right now.
And Christians, perhaps wrongly, are not immune.
So, although like me gentleness in the discussion may not come easily to you, this is a time for gentleness. Some wise people will tell you that gentleness is always required – and they are right.
Now we need to be clear about what gentleness is not. It is not abandoning the truth. Peter tells Christians “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.. (1Peter 3:15) He’ was not writing about vaccination but about speaking about what brings Eternal life- not just the life on earth we are talking about when we discuss Covid. So if gentleness and respect are required for handling the gospel, they certainly apply to our out-of-lockdown conversations. Gentleness wins.
But it is especially needed right now. So some very old-fashioned advice pops into my head as I write this. Pray then talk. Pray for the person you just had that heated discussion with. Please.
And as for that headline. A good fight is not when you are right, but when you seek the good of the other. How often have we got caught up in winning rather than being winsome? Which means we fail to persuade.