Friday, April 24, 2009

Changing the Conversation

In his USA Today editorial (thanks, Jeff Alsup!) Jonathan Merritt speaks for a lot of us who believe that there is a more excellent way through the conflicts of this time. There is too much shouting, and not enough listening to allow any of us to be able to accurately figure out where we are, much less where we are collectively going.

The Big Sort effect of our herding behavior protects us from having to work hard at listening to others, and enables us to simply identify, as small town folks still do, those who "aren't from around here." Human beings seem to have a need to draw small circles, and to be able to identify the stranger as an alien-- a danger.

Christ preaches against this human instinct with real power and devastating force, just as God in the Old Testament rails against Israel for neglecting the stranger and the alien. Both sides of our current bout of culture wars are guilty of this behavior, while claiming to live out Christ's love/justice/ultimate purpose.

What could happen if we could learn to talk, rather than yell? What paths could we see if we stopped living with shark-like eye protection rolled over our eyes and our jaws wide open? I'm not talking namby-pamby kum-ba-ya campfire happy feelings. I'm talking honest and truthful discussion. I don't know where it might lead-- it might lead nowhere. But my point is, nobody who claims the name of Christian seems to be willing to try it. Christ must weep at that.

Enough wrestling; we have thought and fought and manipulated ourselves and Christ's Church into this mess. Maybe loving and obeying Christ might show us Christ's way out. What this means:
  • Choosing to be patient and kind
  • Refusing to allow pride to control us, approaching one another in humility
  • Rejecting rudeness and anger toward those we identify as "them"
  • Refusing to keep a record of wrongs done to us or to those we love
  • Losing ourselves by bearing all things, hoping all things, believing all things

What could happen if we committed to Paul's prescription for the Corinthian church?

1 comment:

  1. Clay, it has been my personal experience that when I am yelling, I not only can not hear another person, I CAN NOT HEAR GOD! Those times have led me to deep despair. If we are to have conversations and loving relationships with people perhaps we need to be quiet and do as scripture says "Be still and know that I am God" Only God knows where it will lead, but at least it would be a place to start.

    In Christ's Love!