Quiet Please

August 14, 2014

You don’t have to agree with me. That’s not a condition of our friendship.

I find myself at a curious place in my life where I have more friends of different perspectives than ever before. There are a number of reasons for that, I suppose.

The older I get and the more I grow in my understanding of biblical truths, the more firmly I hold what I believe to be true. However, I also find fewer things in that category of absolutes than I ever have. I have a much broader range of things than ever before about which I have to say “I think…but I don’t KNOW.”

Regardless of the issues, I find that people on all sides of the political or social or philosophical or theological conversations in our world seem to be awfully quick to shout their convictions and woefully slow to listen to those unlike theirs. I’ve spent some time thinking about what the real problem is with them – with me – with US.

I have written before about the foolishness of attacking people when we really need to challenge ideas. But those blog posts don’t get shared or affirmed. Those writings don’t make the rounds. Typically, we only share the ones that affirm our strong beliefs – especially if they do so at the expense of those who hold different beliefs.

Why can’t we sit down over coffee – because everything seems more civil over coffee – and discuss the ideas and convictions without pointing fingers at people? There’s only one reason: arrogance.

The more I consider it, the more convicted I become that it is just our selfish human arrogance that makes us unable or unwilling to sit down with people who think differently than we do and talk about our differences without contentiousness. We just don’t want to see things any differently than we do.

But I ask you simply this: if what we believe is genuinely true, wouldn’t it stand up to the questions? And, when it does, our convictions are strengthened. If they don’t stand up, then won’t they drive us to deeper study and more self-examination?

I think we miss the spirit of the admonition of our brother James:

“…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

If we would just listen first, speak second, and not get so angry, maybe we might be able to have some real conversations even with people who don’t see things the same way. And maybe…just maybe, we’ll be stretched in ways we need to be and they’ll be stretched in way they need to be. And along the way we may find that the by-product is a more civil, more humane world for us all.

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