When did it happen that we became afraid to talk to each other?
All of us have different life experiences that lead us to interpret events, what people say, politics, and even the gospel differently. Even “knowing” someone does not mean that we fully know how they may interpret something that happens or that is said. More and more in my personal life, professionally and from other people, I keep hearing of instances when someone is upset because they have interpreted someone else’s words, thoughts or actions one way when they actually meant it in a completely different way all together.
When did we become so afraid of each other?
Jesus tells us that perfect love casts out fear and yet we have somehow decided that the loving thing is not to go to someone else when we are upset by what they have said or by what has happened and listen to understand. Somehow we have decided the loving thing is to stay silent, to remain offended, to let things fester that never should have been a wound in the first place.
I have not trusted where I should. I have allowed my perception to prevent me from meaningful relationships. I have missed the chance to love because I have feared rejection and deeper brokenness too much. I have much to repent of.
But the challenges that face us are too deep. I do not see how we can keep risking building up the kingdom of God in love because of our fear. And friends that’s what is happening. Families are being torn apart because they think they know things that they don’t know. Employees are leaving companies without feeling like they were valued or heard and returning to kill their former co-workers. Racial tensions are high and mistrust between communities is so low. The allure of the rich is drowning out the command of Christ to take care of the poor. The more we think we know what is going on in other people’s heart and heads and lives without talking to them directly, the more tension and violence we are going to see not just out in the world but in our families. This tension is exploding around us. This lack of community and connection and willingness to risk is costing us the brightest and the best of our generations.
Gods kingdom, the movement of the Holy Spirit, calls us into relationship. It calls us to look at one another not as demographics or focus groups or what we can gain from each other, but as Gods children, with individual stories and struggles, and to remember that no matter how well we know one another, we should not presume we know one another’s perception. We may find that we were wrong and we had been holding onto hurt and pain when we could have been filled with the love Christ wants for us.
If you are upset by the actions or words of someone in your life and you have not done as scripture says, go to them with humbleness and love and tell them you are hurt and listen to understand, not to respond, but to understand their perspective. You may find you were right to be upset. But you may find that there is another angle from which to consider the issue.
We are called to be a people of love, not a people of fear. God willing, every day I am striving to do better at this.