About six months ago or so I attended a presentation by a well known Christian author and speaker. In the course of his presentation he shared a story about how one of his neighbors had approached him to ask his counsel about what to do about Christian radio. The neighbor had been listening to some Christian radio programs and had become distressed at the amount of bigotry and ignorance exhibited by the programs’ hosts and callers.
The speaker’s reply to his neighbor was to say that he, himself, chose not to listen to Christian radio for just those reasons and that he encouraged others to do the same–to not listen to it, to turn off Christian radio. As I sat there in the audience that day listening to the speaker’s story, I thought to myself, ‘Wow.’ The speaker’s counsel to his neighbor was certainly understandable, but it was also certainly representative of where we are today both in the Church and in society at large.
Rather than doing the more difficult and often emotionally disagreeable work of separating the good from the bad in the world of Christian thought and practice, we simply ‘turn off’ that perspective to which we are disinclined. (It goes without saying that we see this same dynamic at work–at jet engine levels–in our present political situation.)
Scott Peck, in his celebrated book, ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ said the opposite of love is not hate but laziness. In large part, this is where we are today; absent the love to keep the radio on and get in there with our scalpels and separate out the worthy from the unworthy, the mercy-filled from the unmerciful.
With respect to the content of Christian radio these days, the well known Christian author and speaker was right to acknowledge the bigotry and ignorance (and general foolishness) often found there. However, he left unacknowledged the goodness and grace that is often found there as well–on those same Christian airwaves; people who genuinely love God, who offer genuine encouragement and hope to many who are in need of just such a word and who inspire listeners every day to live a more compassionate, Christ-like life.
So, what is our work here? Our work is to do what not too many seem to be doing at the moment…take the time to really understand what the other is saying and why they’re saying it. To affirm what we can affirm and critique what we believe should be critiqued. And this can only happen if we keep the radio on.
Institute for Christian Unity