I love to tell the story. When I tell a story, often those listening think of a story of their own to tell. Jesus knew this. He told stories as a way of opening conversation, of giving people a new perspective, and to make people smile. In the early church, the apostles told stories about seeing the resurrected Christ, studying the scriptures with him, eating with him, loving him. They were not proselytizing about an idea, but sharing their experience of love with Christ.
Today’s world is so polarized, especially in the areas of politics and religion. It is hard to find people willing to listen to those with whom they disagree. When we hear a politician who drives us crazy, we simply hit the mute button. When we witness a church excluding people, we express outrage as we stomp away. Most of us spend more time articulating our thoughtful and righteous opinions than we do listening to those with whom we disagree.
The world is in desperate need of people who can listen to and love those with whom they vehemently disagree. It’s an impossible practice without paying steady attention to our prayer life. It is God who gives me both the grace and the protection to share coffee and conversation with a Christian friend who believes that homosexuality is a sin. During such a conversation, we both surrender our judgement, and we listen to stories and seek the presence of Christ.
The next time you come across someone with whom you disagree, in the area of religion or politics, ask them to tell you more, and really listen to their perspective. Then share your own story: gently, humbly, meekly, generously. You would be amazed at the amount of common ground in the abyss between those liberal and conservative poles. And if we can begin to perceive common ground, there may be more space for peace and diversity.
Rev. Cindy Maybeck