I haven’t been spending as much time in Facebook world as I used to lately. One of the reasons is I’m having a hard time with some of the absolute statements folks make when really, it’s just their opinion. I’ve done it hundreds of times myself in the past so I get it. We believe something strongly and for us, that belief is a foundational truth. It then morphs into a perceived universal Truth when really, it isn’t proveable and it’s personal to us.
I had the opportunity to attend an Interfaith community dinner last night and as my daughter would say, I am shook. I had the insane honor of sitting next to a new friend from Samalia who is Muslim. After building a little rapport, I bravely asked if I could ask him a question. He kind of smiled, I’m sure knowing what was coming, and agreed. I asked him to tell me what he thought about Jesus. We then entered into this gorgeous conversation around the Muslim faith and how it overlaps with Christianity on so many points. I had no idea! Here’s one thing that made me sad…he knew a ton about Christianity while I knew next to nothing about Islam. Here’s one thing that made my heart soar…we both agreed that no matter what we believe, we are called to love and not judge. God is the judge and He is the one who turns a heart toward Him.
I fear that we’ve gotten to a place in the American Church where our opinion and our interpretation shuts us down from engagement and curiosity. We close the door and lock the windows to anything and anyone who doesn’t hold the same “truth” as us and we scream at them our personal truth. We assume our position is the right position and any listening to other sides is sin. We lose all opportunity to gain insight and wisdom, to grow in really rich ways by learning, because we are terrified that everything we think is Truth is really just opinion and personal belief. As if somehow you aren’t allowed to hold personal beliefs because they aren’t valuable.
Curiosity is such a powerful tool. Asking questions appropriately, with kindness and genuine interest, shapes our world view and allows us to grow. Jesus asked lots of questions and I believe in that habit, He is modeling for us how we should approach people. We can declare our side, draw the line in the sand or, we can choose to understand the other person and ask questions. Not questions meant for accusations, questions meant for sharing and growing.
I’m convinced that the more we stand on our podiums and shout what we believe with no regard for the harm and trauma we could be causing, the more we render ourselves ineffective. I fully believe most people have great intentions and aren’t trying to harm. They believe they are protecting, helping or promoting something good. Unfortunately, when we assume a position above people, looking down to tell them where they are wrong, we only do harm and eventually we force everyone away because we lose our approachability. Jesus was the ultimate example of someone who didn’t force His Truth on anyone, He simply loved, asked questions, and stayed approachable.
Be curious. Love all. Judge none. Ask questions.