Later that night, I texted my friend to apologize. I had not listened to her to understand, but rather to share my opinion and dismantle hers.
I was out with old friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. One friend and I began discussing a certain author’s theology. I was concerned that my friend found the author’s thinking to be compelling. I was apprehensive that she didn’t understand the implications of the author’s teachings. The discussion became a debate between friends, then a more pointed dismantling of the other’s opinion. We reached an impasse right as it was time for everybody to go their separate ways for the night.
Later, it hit me that I had not treated my friend as a friend. I still believed the content of what I said. I still believed the author’s theology was troublesome. But I texted my friend to apologize for not truly listening nor seeking to understand her perspective.
Maybe you have had a similar experience. It wouldn’t surprise me. We live in a challenging and divided time in the United States.
Religious perspectives, political ideologies and life philosophies vary across a vast spectrum. Infinite access to media allows us to catch quick clips and sound bites of people and issues, giving us the illusion of understanding. Facebook and Twitter empower everyone to have a voice to speak their mind on the issues. And there are a lot of issues.
While everyone has a voice, is anyone listening to understand? Do we gain our comprehension of people and issues based on sound bites spliced together by people from “our side?” Do we see those we disagree with as dangerous and extreme, or as people created in the image of God who we are called to host and love?
Our country is too busy yelling (or typing in CAPS) about all the issues to examine HOW we are approaching each other with the issues.
If we stopped and reflected honestly, I bet we would see:
* Labeling opponents is easier than loving people.
* Writing someone off is safer than wrestling with a different perspective.
* Drawing lines in the sand is more common than finding common ground.
* Winning a debate has become more important than welcoming a person.
Should this be true of followers of Jesus, who walked on this earth full of both grace and truth? Could he show us another approach? What if there was a different way?
Author Bob Goff says, “Find people you don’t understand and run towards them. I’ve spent my whole life avoiding people that Jesus spent his whole life engaging.”
That resonates with me. And I wonder if it resonates with you. If it does, I want to invite you to Q Commons.
On Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m., New City Fellowship is hosting Q Commons in partnership with Church United. Q Commons is a two-hour TED talk style live event that is hosted simultaneously in cities across the globe. It will provide a space where the thoughtful can converge in a moment when the extremes get all the attention. The goal is to educate Christians on how they can bring hope and leadership to their communities in a critical moment for America.
The theme for this year’s event is “The Power of We,” focusing on how to engage, come together and show hospitality across dividing lines. You’ll hear six short talks. Three talks will be from national speakers via telecast (including Bob Goff). Another three talks will be delivered by local leaders live at the event. The ticket cost is $19 per person.
Last month, Church United took a step by bringing South Florida leaders together to hear Dave Runyon talk about knowing and loving our neighbors. What could happen in South Florida if Christians stayed rooted in biblical truth and yet launched themselves towards their neighbors in love? Hosted those of differing opinions in their home? Listened to understand rather than to dismantle?
We can dream of what could happen in South Florida. Or we could take another step. We believe Q Commons is one of those steps, and we hope you’ll take that step with us by attending on October 25th.
* “Everybody Always”, Bob Goff, author of Everybody Always and Love Does.
* “The Gift of Hospitality”, Jo Saxton, author and leadership coach.
* “Solving Problems Together”, Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO of charity: water .
* “Radical Hospitality & Kingdom Opportunity”, Sean Bailey, Regional President of Apartment Life.
* Ashleigh Cromer and Denis Estimon from Be Strong bullying prevention.
* And another local speaker to be announced soon.
Tickets are $19 and can be purchased at qcommons.com/southflorida
New City Fellowship
2740 Van Buren Street
Hollywood, FL 33020
Event Hosts: New City Fellowship, Church United, Holy City Church and Knox Seminary
John Houmes is the planter and pastor at New City Fellowship, a new church in Hollywood, FL. You can find out more about New City at www.NewCityHH.com or follow John on Twitter at @JohnHoumes.