For most of my life, I have followed the advice of not discussing religion or politics with anyone outside of my comfort zone. I have found that most people are entrenched in their views and beliefs, and are more interested in espousing their own ideas and opinions at the expense of others.
On a few rare occasions, I have found a person from a radically different point of view that I could honestly open a dialog. Although neither one of us budged from our positions, we none-the-less engaged in a meaningful discussion and learned something about the others point of view. The dialogs worked because both participants respected the other as a unique individual possessing human dignity and value.
Over the last couple weeks, I stumbled across two different weblogs. I ignored my own advice and felt compelled to enter into their discussions on religion. One was an atheist, the other a Christian. (I will only describe this Christian as one not of my denomination.) In both cases, I had nagging doubts about how well I described my position and point of view. And in the end, I found it most ironic that the atheist treated me as an equal and worthy of the discussion while the Christian did not.
I am not sure why I ignored my own advice. At some point in reading each weblog, I must have felt invited and welcomed into an honest and open discussion. I felt an urge to make a real human connection, to attempt to fulfill Christ’s second commandment “to love your neighbor.” I felt inspired by Matthew 5:46-47,
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Now that the discussions are done (actually I exited the second one), I feel like I failed. I guess my skin is not as thick as I though it was. I know the Bible warns us that it won’t be easy. But I didn’t expect it from someone on the same Vine.