Go and say to this people;
When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes-
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them."
Often, when I'm speaking with someone who doesn't agree with something I've said, especially with regard to my religious beliefs, I'm too quick to defend myself or take offense or worse yet, get angry out of frustration...or dare we say, insecurity.
This morning's NT daily reading covered the last chapter of Acts, and Paul's journey from Malta as a prisoner to Rome where he defended his faith and became a free man.
If you follow this blog, you'll know that I've been terrible about posting my Bible reading lately. I think this is actually my first post about the book of Acts. I blame it on my level of boredom with this particular book of the Bible, all the to-and-fro-ing of the establishment of the early church just wasn't of interest. After all, it seemed that every one who became an early church leader was eventually martyred. Where's the fun in that?
But this final chapter, particularly these verses that Paul actually uses to illustrate his inability to convince the elders of the Jewish church in Rome about Jesus as the Messiah, got me thinking...
That quick, gut reaction doesn't help help me, it simply shuts down communication.
Instead, what I'm trying to learn is to pause, take a step back and try to see things from the other person's perspective. Often, they're not trying to be insulting, they're defending a position that they believe is equally of merit.
What I am practicing is rather than react defensively, what if I simply 'agreed to disagree'? I maintain my beliefs, while keeping my relationship with the other person in tact.
I'm not denying my beliefs, they're as strong as ever. However, I'll accept that not everyone has to believe what I do in order for me to be right, or for me to believe what I believe.
I truly believe that we will each eventually come into a relationship with God.
However, it must be on our own terms, not someone else's...which makes perfect sense because we are each individuals. My relationship with my mother is different than my brother or sister's relationship with her, because we are each different people. That doesn't make any of those relationships less loving or enduring, simply different in their perspective.
I believe it's the same in our relationship with God. He loves each of us equally...yes, even those of us who don't acknowledge His existence. And if we believe that God is in control, can we also believe that He will eventually bring each of us into a relationship with Him?
If we can embrace that idea, we can live our faith, share it with others, and not be insulted or intimidated when we are rejected. We can respect the beliefs (or atheism) of others with the knowledge that everyone is on a different path to God.
What do you think?