“Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”– Acts 10:34-35.
Wikipedia describes cancel culture as a form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Cancel culture is a “gotcha” system to describe people who do or say something we don’t like or agree with so we choose to disassociate from them or worse cancel them from our lives.
But what does cancel culture mean for the Christian? As Christians, we’re called to live like Christ, no matter what the culture around us looks like. Can you cancel people and love them at the same time? The apostle Paul also wrestled with this question. In his culture, there were religious leaders who believed they were better informed, better educated, and thus superior. Paul was once one of them. But then things changed. After experiencing Christ, he was different. He became so passionate about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection that he wanted the entire world to know about it. Did Paul cancel his old friends? No. He engaged with them. He sought to speak their language and related with them — sharing in ways they would understand. He strived to make a difference, not just a point.
Romans 12:18 says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”Read that one more time and notice it doesn’t say to live at peace only with the people who agree with you, or the people who are part of your voting bloc, or people who don’t ridicule or insult you. It says, “live in peace with everyone.” And pray for them rather than canceling them. When you pray for them, don’t just pray that God will change their mind. Ask God how He sees them. Ask God to help you love them as He loves them. Ask God to cancel your anger so you don’t need to cancel a relationship.
To be clear, there may be reasons to cancel people from our lives. But we should ask ourselves: Should we engage instead of cancel? The good news of Jesus is powerful. It transforms the hearts of men and women everywhere. And if we believe it, there must be another way to engage with people. Perhaps the best way to be a witness for Jesus is to love the people we are tempted to cancel.
Remember the challenge that Jesus issued to each of us when He spoke these words, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
- In 2 Timothy 4:14–15, the apostle Paul writes: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said” How do we leave judgment to God and be wise in these kinds of situations?
- Given the instructions in Romans 12:14–19, what is the way forward for the church in a culture that wants to “cancel” those who disagree?