Understanding the Other

My good friend Melissa suggested a follow-up post to “A Crisis of Belief, part 3” that gave some practical advice on beginning conversations with “the other”. In a way, this post is a bit embarrassing, because this seems like common sense and courtesy. However, sometimes those who follow Jesus need a reminder about these things.

Here are some thoughts that have helped me process this concept (and that I need to often remember):

  • There are more important things than being right“- when I was an assistant manager at Best Buy, my boss Eric Morgan told me that. It’s astoundingly simple. And true. Which is good, because…
  • You’re not right about everything you believe”- trust me. You are not God, you don’t know everything, and what you do know may, in fact, be incorrect.
  • People are not projects”- they know when they are your project. While I’d love for everyone that I come into contact with to know Jesus in a personal and meaningful way, not all of those people are going to do that on my terms, on my timeline, or even at all.
  • You’re allowed to be friends, even good friends, with people who are not now, nor will they ever become, Christians”– seriously, it’s ok.
  • “When matters of faith come up, don’t puke Jesus all over them”- just be Jesus. Love them. Accept them as made in God’s image.
  • They’ve had experiences that likely you have no clue about. And those experiences shaped their understanding”- maybe they’ll trust you enough to share them.
  • It’s possible that some of your non-believing friends, neighbors, family and co-workers are more moral than you”- think about that one for a minute.
  • Recognize that you are bringing baggage with you”- your experiences, upbringing, social circle, and a great many other things are influencing you so much that you don’t even know it. These assumptions, presumptions and presuppositions are powerful. A good question to ask when hearing an opposing viewpoint and reacting so strongly is, “I wonder what could be causing me to feel so strongly about this?”.
  • Talk to people face to face”- while you may begin a conversation via email, text, etc, face to face is best.

I wonder…what might you add?

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