Facebook and other social media are often battlegrounds for those who like to argue. But they can be forums for discussion to hone our thoughts and ideas beyond our little circle of friends who agree with everything we say.
Why are we so afraid to listen to someone’s views without the need to win them over?
Why can’t we believe that they are genuinely concerned about issues just as we are?
Why do we automatically attribute bad motives to them or assign them labels that are often not their views at all? Are we just that into winning?
Are we so afraid of a future that looks a bit different from the past? Where is our faith in God? He holds the future. We are in his hands and need to trust him instead of being so fearful.
Why are we so quick to believe the worst about those with whom we disagree, especially politicians, that we don’t even check the rumor on a fact-checking site to be very careful not to slander others?
I’ve learned a lot from opinions that differ from mine. I’ve learned that all Americans love our country and want it to prosper; we may differ in what that looks like but our motives are the same. I’ve seen where my white upbringing during Jim Crow can still skew my thinking and ultimately my actions. Listening helps me understand why people of color feel see things differently. Paying attention to what others say has revealed my tendency to defend myself.
Here are some ways that I’m trying to improve in this area:
- Wait to respond.
- Don’t dismiss the speaker by suggesting she’s wrong to give an opinion.
- Don’t dismiss others by labeling them or even mentally categorizing them.
- Recognize when I get defensive, which can be often, and ask myself why I’m defensive by using questions such as those above in this post.
- Understand that speaking truth means there’s no blanket support for any person. We are all sinners and need to be called out when we’re off. That’s what true love involves.
- Quit posting in anger but only in love. Let my friends know that I love them even when we disagree. If someone decides to unfriend me simply because we disagree, accept it for what it is—spiritual immaturity. If it’s because I’ve not spoken in love, that’s on me.
- Remember that Jesus called us to peacemaking and that demands listening to others, not ignoring them. I’m not called to keep the peace but to bring true shalom.
As Paul tells us, without love our works and words are meaningless.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT).