If my Facebook newsfeed is indicative of our hearts my friends, then today I’m turning to the Bible. Not just any part, but a part that always makes me feel squirmy. In the last few days I have been been feeling the squirm more than ever. And the squirm often means I might be judging others and have to do a little looking inside. So let’s start with this:
From Matthew chapter 7: 3Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?
I’m starting here today. Because, if I’m not careful, my gut reaction to those I don’t see eye -to-eye with is not stellar. I think things like: How on Earth can you not see how wrong you are? There is no way that you can be blind to this! It is crystal clear to me. I CAN SEE THE SPECK IN YOUR EYE for Pete’s sake! Actually what you have in there looks like a giant tree, no kidding. Get that thing out and you will surely see how right I am! How my side is being kind and yours is not! How we are about love and you are about hate. Black and white.
The beam in my own eye is what I am oblivious to. It is clouding my vision. It is keeping me from seeing clearly where others are coming from. I might not agree with your choice or your actions, but that’s not your whole story. I’ll never know your story if my eyes are being deceived and are making me believe if you don’t agree with me, you are just WRONG. The end. Everything you say should be thrown out because…wrong. I can see the wrongness in that speck in your eye. And I am missing the 1001 shades of color in this situation because the beam in my eye causes me to see just in black and white.
BUT, here’s the thing. If I want to remove the beam from my own eye I need to consider how to do that. I know I will see more clearly without it. But the thing is I can’t just pull the darn thing out. It is stuck tight with the glue of fear, anger, mistrust, pride and righteous anger. So I’m going to have to use tools. The good news is God gave me all the right ones.
He gave me compassion.
He gave me the ability to listen.
He gave me love.
He gave me faith.
I need to consider that if I am compassionate to those I disagree with I might find out that people are scared. They are scared for their families. They are scared for their livelihoods and their fear has led them to a different place than me. I might be able to see how this path has happened. Because the same fear is what also has motivated so many who are on the same path that I am on. I can see that there are countless groups in the in our country that feel marginalized, that feel hurt. I can get it. And I can be compassionate to both groups, even if right now they stand in opposition to each other.
If I listen I might find out other things I have never considered. I might find out what is in people’s hearts. My friends, it is rare to find a heart that is just filled with hate and darkness. We might be struggling and we might be lashing out, but that is not the whole story. By listening I will find places where we agree and where we disagree. And that is where the opportunity for connection will happen. Not convincing, but connection. Connection is so much more powerful and doable than convincing. I don’t have to convince you of a thing, but I can find a place where we can connect.
If I use love, I can see that all the things I have loved about my people are still there. I don’t have to like or agree with their thinking in order to love them. The bible is quite clear on that point. Love is where it is at. This love looks like taking deep breaths, being thoughtful, not reacting only to the speck in my brother’s eye but to the whole creation that is my fellow human. Then I hope he will react to me and not just the beam in mine. We are all so much more than this. None of us or of this boils down to a sound bite. It is not that simple and easy. It is a mess. But in that mess can be love.
If I use faith I can believe that we can all get through anything. I can believe that God will use all things to his glory if we are his hands and his feet in the world. I can have faith that people will find a way to stand up for the oppressed on each side of the tracks. There are so many hurting people in this world, we need to find a way to work faithfully together for all of them and at the expense of none of them.
The leader of our country may or may not be able to help us with these things. We may find that we are working in direct opposition to this leader, we don’t know. No matter what we need to connect with each other more than ever. God has not promised us an easy path. He has not promised us perfect people to share the journey with. He has not promised us a perfect world. He has not promised us a perfect leader on Earth, but we have one in Heaven.
Our job in this world is to be compassionate. To listen. To love. And if there is anything I have learned through this situation it is that there are SO MANY opportunities to do this. The chances for me to practice these gifts God has given me are ENDLESS. They are endless for you too.
These are the things we need to agree on: listening, compassion, love and faith. And if we can start here, that is amazing stuff. It is how we can move forward together for a better world no matter who is in office for the next 4 or the next 40 years.
Will you join me?