Sunday, June 7, 2020

seasoned with salt

You're all familiar with the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." While I appreciate the wisdom it offers, in these busy times of information and social overload, all too often we don't look beyond the covers. 

There's a lot of truth to another saying, "First impressions matter." In the sales world, this is impressed on reps because without a good first impression there won't be an opportunity for another one.

As I am bombarded by headlines, captions and teasers from all sides - the mainstream media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and everything else, I have to make choices on where, if anywhere, I turn my attention. Everything is competing for that attention, of which there is only so much that can be given.

Something I've noticed is the abundance of media with outrageous and/or incendiary headlines/captions, especially in the political realm. 

For example, there is a video of a short speech by Ben Carson on YouTube, the caption of which says, ""THEY STILL DON'T LIKE US" - Watch Ben Carson Wipe the Floor with Nancy Pelosi and Entire Dems." On the lead-in screen of the video showing the "play" button is plastered, "THEY HATE US ALL!"  Just so you know, this video was not posted by Carson, but by some entity calling itself "House Republican," so the captions are not Carson's.

That's like the "cover" of the book. But if you take the time to read it (i.e., watch the video), it doesn't live up to its billing, and thankfully so. Ben Carson is not like that.  Calmly and rationally he makes his argument, whereas the buildup would lead you to expect some wild rant spewing forth from his mouth after which he would drop the mic and walk off stage.

On the other hand, there are plenty of "books" out there whose content is just like their cover. Political headlines and captions that sound more like the buildup to the fight of the century (or a recount of the biggest knockdown of the century) lead to articles that are designed to bring out the worst emotions in people by belittling and denigrating the opposition.

My question is, how much constructive discussion do these provocative, confrontational headlines and articles generate? Is anyone with an opposing viewpoint even going to want to take the time to listen? Or if they do, odds are they'll strike back in the same manner and it will just wind up a yelling contest.

Colossians 4:5-6 says, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."

We Christians should ask ourselves, what is our "cover" like?  That's what people see first. Our good friends may know what's inside those covers, but others not necessarily so. They'll judge us by those covers. First impressions count and there may not be a chance for a second one.

I've seen Christian covers that scream, "IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN JESUS YOU'RE GOING TO HELL!!!" And covers that say, "I'm listening." Even though the ultimate content beyond the cover for both may be sharing the gospel, which book do you think people would pick up from the shelf?

By the way, this is the Ben Carson video:

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