Nine out of ten times we will agree.
Speaking with Christian brothers in a recent on air interview, I made the suggestion above.
As we discussed issues, it was clear that we all adhered to the same biblical principles, we all held the same philosophical perspectives, we all agreed that certain things were right or wrong.
The conclusion seemed obvious: our differences revolved around approach.
Our approach to issues has to do with how we
Treat others with whom we converse
Use language which invites not alienates
Speak publicly about those with whom we may disagree
Support another’s right to speak even if we disagree
Listen to those whose voice, culture, or background is different from our own
Consider the following examples.
Identity. Some want us to accept their self-identity based on their individual definitions of sexuality or gender. My agreement or disagreement with self-identity in the culture means little if I do not accept people as fellow human beings. Worth, value, and dignity are based on our being made in God’s image according to God’s creational law (Genesis 1:26-27). If I approach individuals as people rather than categories, reception may be reciprocal.
Government. There are those who vilify anyone with whom they disagree. Responses to the president, congress, judges, or law enforcement crosses the line of visceral hatred for some. I may be willing to listen to reasoned responses to people or policy but I will not abide disrespect of anyone. The biblical vantage point begins with the admonition to honor those in authority (1 Peter 2:13-17). If I approach authorities with a spirit of generosity – no matter their belief or behavior – my approach may bring with it an opportunity for collaboration and conciliation.
Media. If we are only given to one perspective on any given issue we will never be able to live with each other in cooperation. Those on the so-called “left” tend to read Slate, Salon, Huffington Post, The New York Times, NPR, or The Washington Post. Those on the so-called “right” tend to read The Drudge Report, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Washington Times, City Journal, or First Things. Scripture clearly teaches that one should consider the second point of view after the first (Proverbs 18:17). If I approach other perspectives with an attitude of respect – without giving up my perspective – it could lead to everyone being heard.
Two weeks ago Warp&Woof Radio celebrated our 100th show at the state capital building in Indianapolis. Thanks to Matt Barnes and Tim Overton, HB Bell and I were able to interview a wide cross section of senators and representatives as they began their 2018 legislative session.
What struck me then and what continues to reverberate in my thinking is how much each elected official cared for their constituency. Each person brought forward what they wanted the general assembly to consider. What was true of each governmental official was their generous approach toward everyone, even those “across the aisle.”
Nine times out of ten we will agree with basic beliefs. It is often our approach to problems which divides us. May we first seek to find God-given, creational principles to live this life. Then may we discover the communication which will attract others to listen, to consider, and to respect approaches different than their own.
Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video).
Help Comenius reach its $40,000 giving goal in this new year! The Comenius Institute [501(c)(3)] (website here) Donate online (here), email@example.com, (text/talk 630.303.4891) Checks to “The Comenius Institute,” c/o Collaborate 317, 4202 N EMS Blvd #180, Greenfield, IN 46140 And ask Mark what Comenius would do with $1 million!
Picture credit: Snappygoat.com, personal pictures from HB Bell