Listening Authentically to Opposing Viewpoints (Inspired by Ephesians 2:11-22)
There is nothing new under the sun or the son of God! We don’t need another word or another way to communicate the truth. We have multiple ways of communicating. We have languages spoken, written by hand, with bumps on a page, short and long beeps as well as clicks of the tongue in some cultures. Through history we have communicated with the shofar, with music and with drums. We do not need another language or means of communicating.
We who say we are followers of Jesus are not called to have issues with others. We are not called to have issues with humans who believe in Buddha, Mohammad, God or who are republican or democrats! We are not called to have issues with people who are white, red, yellow or black or European, Native American, Latin-x, Asian, African, African American! We are not called to have issues with others who have no faith at all or even believe in darkness rather than living in the light.
But the one thing we are called to is to love! That is universal! Everyone wants and knows how to love, even if they don’t use it regularly. There are no barriers when genuine love is believed, felt and offered. There are no barriers when our needs are being heard and believed. As a Spiritual Director with Integer Network, it all begins with listening. Ya heard me?!?
Are we listening, are we getting so deep into our relationship with our creator that we are listening for direction, with empathy, for how to love that human you are disagreeing with? There are so many things we can agree on…humane treatment of others, a desire for love, a need for provision, the hope to prevent pain and suffering, and to live in peace and not strife. But do we consider those same things for those mistreated by governments, or those who lost their families trying to escape oppression by boats or packed into tractor-trailers or climbing over fences built to keep us apart? Do we consider those who have been jailed by bars or in communities by red lining and injustices for all of us who have been marginalized?
We can only do the best we can and if all of us are doing that, there is more than enough for all of us in this world. God made it that way. We are not in competition of each other. There is more than enough if we share!
Let us face it, when I say apple, we may not see the same picture. There are 24 variations of apples. When I say apple, which one do you think of? Here they are from most tart to the sweetest:
1) granny smith
2) pacific rose
8) pink lady
13) autumn glory
15) red delicious
17) honey crisp
Let us face it, if we have 24 apple choices our words are never going to match our understanding of a word. With all the dialects and languages an apple is not just an apple. Sure when I say apple, many of us see red delicious. We may not be able to agree on which apple is best, but we can agree that we all need to eat, we all get hungry, we all need provisions for buying apples. My word apple will never be enough to speak to you, but when you are hungry, giving you an apple speaks volumes.
We will never get to wholeness as humans if we are not meeting the needs of others. If we are not seeing others as ourselves we will never progress and have unity and integrity in our relationships in a way that will make this a better world. I may not understand your words of love but I will always understand your acts of love! I believe that this is why our dear St. Francis of Assisi is quoted so much and so often. This great mystic says for us to “Preach the gospel; if necessary use words”. This has been a common truth since his passing in 1226. This Saint also offers us these words on meditation: “Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt”. Our healthy authentic self is developed within transparency. If you are not honest with yourself you will never be honest with others. We arrive at that place of authenticity & integrity through self-care and self-love.
Everyone likes steps, so here is a 5 step program that each of us can easily follow:
1st: You must believe who God says that you are and accept that truth deep into your heart. (This is hiding Gods word in your heart.)
2nd: You must listen to God daily or hourly as you need it, moment by moment. (This is meditating on Gods word day and night.)
3rd: You must listen to others from the heart of who God says that you are and who God says that they are. (This is loving your neighbor as yourself.)
4th: You must obey and only do what you are to do or say or not do or say. (This is walking with the Spirit—Goodness and mercy following you all the days of your life.)
5th: You must respond to what you hear in the love that God put into you! (This is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.)
If you notice, all of the steps start with you. I don’t believe that any of the steps will tell you to go tell your brother or sister they are wrong. We must learn Nonviolent Communication (NVC), something dear to us at Integer Network.
Family and friends, it is 2020…when will we get it? God preached it before St Francis of Assisi, when will we get it? We were once blind but now we see. I think in the year of 2020 it is time for us to get it. That is what living our best life is about. Living in authenticity, integrity, wholeness, and real relationships in our world. We are on this journey for wholeness with our creator by loving one another, as we were born out of love! The word says, “For God so loved the world, let us get back to that! But it all begins with you! Each one reach one and teach one! Go in Peace!