Oh man, here we go.
That’s the typical response I get when I start to hear people shoving scripture down other people’s throats. It’s the response I get when I start to hear the circular logic that is employed to try to prove something. It’s the response that goes through my head when I start to hear so many political “conversations,” if you want to call them that.
Thom Shultz wrote an article back in May that talks about this in relation to religion – Talking about God without being a jerk.
At the end of the article Thom talks about Doug Pollack about his conversational method.
His approach today begins with listening–and asking “wondering questions,” which tend to invite people into comfortable conversations. Now he finds himself in friendly, spiritual conversations with all sorts of people, including those who some pious Christians would find repulsive. He’s learned to embrace them with “radical acceptance,” even though he may not always endorse all their behaviors. That’s an approach he says he learned from another great conversationalist and faith sharer, Jesus.
Amen! it’s not about shoving your version of Christianity down people’s throats. Or your political ideology and beliefs either for that matter. Orthodoxy of belief is important, however, how can you ever get people to believe something if you can’t even talk with them, listen to them, and hear where they are? You know, people are similar in a few things – they all believe that what they believe is correct. You might want to hear them out for a bit. That doesn’t mean you have to agree or take on someone elses’ beliefs. In fact you could walk away thinking the person is completely wrong. That’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Stop trying to fix people, or correct their beliefs if they aren’t open to listening – you are wasting your breath. Jesus didn’t say go and beat people into submission. You’ll get much further in life and with faith and politics if you stop, listen to people first, and hear their questions and beliefs. You might be invited to offer your insights. You might not be invited to offer your beliefs and insights though. That’s ok. It’s not your job to convince anyone. Stop worrying about being right and getting everyone to buy into your version of right. Jesus never said “blessed are the people who are right and convince others.” Start caring for the person you are there with. Be non-divisive so that others may not divide and separate you. Be forgiving so that you can receive forgiveness as well. Be considerate and respectful. Listen and try to understand. And when you walk away, ask yourself what you learned. Maybe you learned that you don’t ever want to talk with the person again. That’s ok too. But we really don’t need to be jerks. Even when someone is a jerk to us. How you response will say more about who you are, rather than who the other person is.