From the Pastor

Dear friends,

I bet you and I disagree over gun control. In fact, I guarantee it.

Whether you’re a gun rights advocate or a gun removal activist, there likely are nuances in your position that would cause me to disagree with you. The same is true with most topics of conversation, especially the controversial ones. Immigration? Probably. Gay rights? Likely. The new tax code? Almost certainly.

But guess what? I’m not right about everything. I know that’s hard to believe (no comment, Krista!), but it’s true. As it turns out, I don’t have the corner on absolute truth, unless we’re talking about Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Which is precisely why we need to be in conversation. I need to hear your opinion, and you need to hear mine. We need to do more than talk at each other and dare to listen to one another.

It’s not rocket science. And yet, well, why are we so bad at it these days?

I learned something in middle school that was critically   important to me. I was at a youth gathering at Camp Kinard, although I can’t remember much more than that. We were doing the time-honored Trust Fall, when participants turn their backs to the group, close their eyes, and fall backwards into the arms of friends — trusting that they’ll be caught.

Trust is the key word.

The Trust Fall activity was old hat, one of those activities youth leaders rely on when they’ve run out of ideas.

But this time, one of the adults — I’ll never remember who — said something like this: “We’ll never learn to listen to one another unless we learn to trust one another.” Trust isn’t the ending point. Learning to trust one another is but a starting point that leads to better listening, which leads to better understanding, which sometimes leads to compromise, which almost always leads to peace.

We seem to live in an age when everyone wants their opinions heard, but no one wants to hear the opinions of others. Bizarre, isn’t it? We need to rediscover the art of listening … which starts by daring to trust.

The NRA has a lot to learn from students in Parkland, Florida … and the rising tide of gun control activists have something to learn from the NRA. So let’s stop the political maneuvering. Let’s stop sacrificing truth for the sake of protecting political turf.

Let’s dare to have conversations that matter in a spirit of trust and respect. Let’s open our ears so that the Spirit might open our hearts and minds. We just might learn something from each other.

“Encourage one another, and build each other up,” Paul writes to the confused and somewhat misguided church in Thessalonica. It’s good advice for us today, don’t you think?

Peace, friends +

Pastor Rhodes

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