Christian civility is a conscious attempt to use language in such a way as to exemplify the teachings of Jesus. It is a way of bringing wholeness to our dialogue. It is not an attempt to gloss over differences or simply to utter shallow meaningless nothings. Christian civility is a means of letting the light of Christ shine in our every day encounters.

            Our words so often get in the way of our witness.  St. Francis echoed this when he said, “Preach the gospel always and if you have to, use words.” The psalmist recognized this when he wrote, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight Oh God my strength and my redeemer.” The value of the just right word is prized in, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in baskets of silver.” Words have power. They are expressions of who we are and what our values are.

            This approach to Christian communication carriers no hint or suggestion of forgetting who we are and whose we are. Rather it is a way of letting our Christianity shine through. In Colossians we are told, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Dr. Arthur Caliandro, former pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, said, “People may not always respond to me as I would like, but I can decide how I will respond to them.” We decide whether we take offense at some hurtful remark or give offense in return; however, we can also decide to respond as Christ would have us respond.

            Christian civility is not easy because we live in an uncivil world. We can do our best to turn down the hostile rhetoric and to speak peace to a troubled world. We can do our best to not add our voices to the chaos and to shine a light in the darkness. The ability to communicate is a great gift from our creator. As is true with all of his gifts, his desire is that we use it to glorify him. It is a formidable challenge.