Difficult Conversations

One of the things this congregation has been committed to through the years is listening and open conversations. One sign of the kingdom, I think, is a group of people that resist the temptation to split off into distinct camps and never talk seriously with people who differ from us. We see this everywhere in the world. We live in culture of customization. We get our news carefully filtered through the right ideological framework, we chose schools that perfectly suit our families’ needs, customized down to their academic emphases as early as elementary school. We have over three hundred TV channels to choose from and literally millions of websites. In the world of politics there are Democrats and Republicans who, with alarming consistency, refuse to work together, as evidenced by this week’s sequester debacle.

There is almost no sense that we drink from a common well anymore. We can rightly celebrate the diversity that characterizes our culture—and it is a gift—but I’m afraid our maturity as human beings has not kept pace with our pluralization. When, in the face of growing diversity, we retrench into familiar ideas and refuse to listen and engage with others who have different understandings and experiences we run the risk of developing certain pathologies: arrogance, heart-heartedness, narrow-mindedness, hatred. This goes for liberals as well as conservatives (to use the polarizing labels we are all too familiar with).

Christians ought to be different. We do drink from a common well. That well is Jesus Christ. The Bible is a remarkable and reliable divine-human expression of God’s dealings with human beings throughout history and God’s hopes and dreams for creation. Inasmuch as we’re reading the same Bible, this too, is a common well. However when we read this Bible together we (not surprisingly) come to different conclusions. As we face some of the corporate sins of the church during this season of Lent we will no doubt come across areas where we don’t see eye to eye. What is more important than agreeing, however, is remaining committed to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We must remain open to one another, willing and able to hear each others’ stories. Only then can God lead us his future for us.

—RYAN