What We Overheard

A few years ago, my wife and I were sitting in a restaurant near our home, and at the table of four next to us, we couldn’t help but overhear a conversation about a coming civil war. “It will start in South Carolina, just like the last one,” one of them said. “We have a lot of admirals and generals and such on our side, ready to go.”

At the time, my wife and I just stared at each other with wide eyes. We haven’t been able to forget what we couldn’t help but overhear.

That memory came back to me when Southern Baptist preacher Robert Jeffress recently threw hints in the same direction. Then, just the other day, another preacher named Rick Joyner went further than hints. And so has Donald Trump himself.

I keep hearing Paul’s words in the New Testament: “If you bite and devour one another, take care lest you consume each other,” and James’ somber warning: “… Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

Non-violence is not just a nice ideal. It’s the “rough and narrow way” that provides an alternative to “the broad road that leads to death.” Blind leaders will lead blind followers into a ditch, Jesus said, and the ditch of neighbor-on-neighbor violence is a deep and horrible one indeed. Those who make such calls should be called out and ignored – and better leaders need to speak out about a better way.

If you’re trying to understand why people are swerving into this ditch, this post and short video might help:


And if you’d like some guidance on how to speak boldly but with respect in these tense times, check out these six commitments of common good communication, based on the values of example, curiosity, clarity, decency, fairness, and persistence.