Jul 232020 1 Response

The Most Christian Thing You Can Do

Christianity has a secret weapon that is especially useful in times like these. Our day is cacophony. As opposed to a symphony where each individual voice and sound come together to make beautiful music, we live at a time where there seems to be no conductor. Each voice is trying to scream louder than the other. With everyone positioning for the spotlight and microphone, the sound in our world is overwhelming. No one is hearing anything other than noise.

The byproduct of cacophony is chaos.

People are overwhelmed, afraid, confused, feeling hurt, and hurting others. It’s a tough time.

Yet this is the exact moment in which Christianity offers a solution to much of what is swirling around us. It is not a magic pill that will solve every problem. It is, however, a paradigm through which we can quiet all the noise, hear individual voices, connect with others, and change.

The secret weapon is conversation. (See: The Definitive Indicator of a Healthy Relationship)

While everyone is screaming at one another, people who have been impacted by Jesus should have a simple approach of making meaningful connections with others–all sorts of others–and to allow conversations to guide us.

The Most Christian Thing You Can Do

It’s within the context of trying times, faith being tested, and an encouragement to consider suffering as an opportunity that the half brother of Jesus gives a simple admonition, “let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1.19) This simple advice gives us a way forward when we are struggling to know what to do next.

The most Christian thing we can do is to listen to one another. Rather than writing our own stories, assuming the worst, demonizing others, and dehumanizing them, we are called to listen. And to speak, but to speak much more slowly than we desire. To speak only after we have truly listened to the heart of the other person, understood their ideas, and allowed them to influence what we are going to say.

And as we speak, we are to restrain from anger. Not that anger isn’t justified on occasion; sometimes it is. But we should restrain from anger because so often anger is not the right response. It is more a reflection of our fear or confusion than the actual ideas or thoughts of the other person.

Few things honor others like saying:

  • Help me understand what you meant by ______.
  • Here is what I hear you saying, is that what you meant?
  • Can you tell me your story?
  • What do you feel like I have misunderstood about you?
  • If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?

When we take the time to listen to others, we are showing them respect, admitting our tendency of getting things wrong, valuing their humanity, and honoring their Creator.

Listening to others is a concrete way of loving them.

The Most UnChristian Thing You Can Do

If conversing with others is one of the most Christian things we can do, refusing to talk to others is one of the most unChristian actions we can take. When we refuse to listen to others, we are boldly announcing:

You are so simple, I don’t need to listen to you because I already know everything you might say.

You are so evil, I don’t need to listen to you because I know you have nothing redeeming to say.

You are so worthless, I don’t need to listen to you because you have no value in my life.

All three are messages a Christian should never send. Yet those are the messages we are announcing when we insist on voicing our opinions yet refuse to listen to the thoughts of others.

There are rare times in which we should not listen to others. The abused is under no obligation to listen to the abuser. Yet in most cases–and in far more cases than we wish–we are called to take the time and have a conversation with one another so that we can better understand not only their ideas, but most importantly their hearts.

The Secret Weapon

A conversation is always a powerful tool of Christianity. Consider how much of the Gospels are about Jesus conversing with people, especially people with whom the religious crowd thought he should not be conversing with. Consider that every command or example of prayer is an invitation from God into a conversation. (See: No Words Are Perfect)

Yet imagine what conversations could do for this time:

Hearts filled with racial bias could be changed as we listen to the experiences of others

Tensions between differing political sides could be eased if people from opposite parties would actually talk to each other.

Compassion and empathy could be experienced and expressed if we looked one another’s pain in the eye.

Love could be given and received if we would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

People often fail to make the connection between Christianity and conversation, but the relationship is strong. If you believe in Jesus, you believe others are created in God’s image, deserving of our respect, more complex than any label or tag could ever explain, capable of making mistakes for which they should be given a right to receive forgiveness, and worthy of giving our time to in order to best love them.

Our faith should drive us to coffee shops, living rooms, offices, and, in a COVID-world, to backyards, Zoom, and FaceTime all in an attempt to converse with others.

In times of cacophony, Christianity has a solution. Listen.

Be Slow to Anger

Anger doesn’t produce the outcome you want.

Posted by Kevin A. Thompson on Sunday, January 5, 2020

One Response to The Most Christian Thing You Can Do
  1. […] As a relationship guy, I love conversations. Ideas fascinate me. Differing perspectives intrigue me.... https://www.kevinathompson.com/changing-approach-on-social-media

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