To say that the nation is tense almost seems like an understatement at this point.
In recent days:
- Five police officers in Dallas slaughtered.
- Two more African-American males dead. St. Paul. Baton Rouge. A significant portion of this population does not feel safe and that has to be a real concern.
- Marches and protests. Some very peaceful. Others violent.
Meanwhile, in the midst of this is much noise. Talk. Loud talk. One can hear opinions 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the news channels. Others go to Facebook and argue online. We are in a fierce political season. Both political parties have much to say and some say it very stridently.
According to many, this all seems to come down to either/or!
- We can listen well. I watched one news show recently where guests screamed at one another during their segment. I doubt that either really heard the other much less caused the other to think. Of course we have ideas and opinions. Yet, so often we seem to put very little energy into listening. We may even find ourselves appearing to listen when in fact we are simply waiting for the other to stop talking so that we can say what we want to say. When we really listen, others feel respected and valued because we actually listened.
- We can love well. I’m not suggesting that we reduce our relationships to sentiment. Sometimes love will confront and challenge. Sometimes love will apologize and admit wrong. Sometimes love will name a particular behavior as unjust. Love may even attempt to correct a wrong. For a Christ-follower, this kind of love is not fueled by rage but by the love of God (I John 4:7-21).
In both our loving and our listening, we can practice humility. Humble people realize they don’t have all the answers. Humble people don’t posture themselves as if they are several steps ahead of everyone else. Such an attitude is presumptuous and even arrogant.
During tough times, we hopefully will realize that we all have a long way to go in terms of living as a genuine disciple of Jesus before others. Living well in a tense time will call for men and women who are serious about both their loving and their listening.