Something strange is happening around us, and some may have started to notice it. We used to have debates in class at school, university and in our social groups. We talked freely about life, our values, faith and the state of the world. As we grew up we were educated about the power of free speech and to never take for granted these blessings that we have living in a democratic “free country”. We studied history and different places in the world where others didn’t enjoy these rights and were punished or imprisoned for their views and beliefs, and we quietly thanked God we were born where we were.

However it seems things may have changed and that we too can no longer express so freely, debate or share our faith and values. That we can’t agree to disagree with those with a difference of opinion without fear of verbal and even physical attack and retaliation regarding whatever point of view we may have.

Everywhere we look from the schoolyard, workplace, universities, and social and public settings people are now living in fear of being able to express their thoughts, concerns and opinions. People are afraid to speak or stand up for what they believe, even if they feel uncomfortable or threatened, because they genuinely believe they will be attacked either verbally or physically if they do. So sadly they often remain silent and afraid.

But when did that become okay – that we were too afraid to speak up? Where freedom in speech, beliefs and opinions are maligned in all sectors across the community because people no longer can agree to disagree without wanting to tear strips off each other?

What example are we setting for our children and the next generations if we can’t even have polite, civil conversations with others anymore? Instead we go at each other like pit bull’s thinking it’s okay to “bite and tear” away at one another’s heart’s and souls.

What are we teaching them when our world is modelling to the next generation that if they have the courage to speak up and to give their opinion they also better be prepared to be hated, threatened and even physically abused by those who may not agree with their point of view.

Interestingly even God gives each of us a choice to disagree with Him. He gives us a free will to agree to disagree if that is what we choose. He’s put before us life and death; blessings and cursings, and leaves it up to us to decide. He loves and cares for all of us and has carefully lain out the consequences in His word of those choices, but ultimately He allows us to disagree with Him if that is what we want to do.

The truth is people are going to disagree with us, but if God can lovingly allow all of us to choose without hating on us, can’t we do the same for our fellow man. That doesn’t mean we become pushovers with no voice, but it does mean that we speak only when we can do it in love and self control, and when God gives us the go ahead and guides us. It’s His love and kindness that leads people to repentance, and it’s our example of this that will reach into the heart’s of all those around us to heal, set free and bring much needed reconciliation and the answers the world so needs.

We must remember that the person who disagrees with us is not our enemy, but our brother or sister; made in the image of God, with hopes and dreams just like us. (Ephesians 6:12) It’s in each of us choosing to love each other, even when it’s hard that will change this world from a place of hatred, venom, fear and negativity into a place we want to raise our children and grandchildren.

Let’s aim to do better. To walk, talk and act with love and kindness. To pray for a world where we are not afraid to speak and share our hearts, faith and values in freedom; where we love regardless.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Do not let unwholesome (foul, profane, worthless, vulgar) words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear you speak.” (Ephesians 4:29 AMP)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Prayer: Lord please help me to see that my fellow man is not my enemy, and to learn to be sensitive to what you want me to say and do in every situation I find myself. Please help me to pray and believe for more; to love in greater measure and to govern better. This is my time and responsibility, so please help me to govern over the nations well. In Jesus name Amen.