Understanding Human Divisiveness

In Sunday’s sermon, I shared the story of Megan Phelps-Roper and how she left her home church, Westboro Baptist. Her experience of compassion illustrates the compassion Jesus shows when he makes an opportunity for understanding in the midst of human divisiveness. Here are Megan’s four ways of engaging people so that real conversations can take place.

1. Don’t assume bad intent. Instead, assume good or neutral intent.

2. Ask questions. As opposed to accusing, questions help people know they’ve been heard. Quite often, this is all people want.

3. Stay calm. Refuse to escalate. Tell a joke. Recommend a book. Pause for a time and come back later when you’re ready.

4. Make the argument. We sometimes assume that the value of our position is, or should be, obvious and self-evident. That we shouldn’t have to defend our positions. That if someone doesn’t get it, that’s their problem. But without making the argument, it’s hard for anyone to see the world in a different way.

As our journey through Lent nears the end, may we continue to follow Jesus into the challenging and sometimes painful places that will ultimately transform us into the people God longs for us to be.

There are so many reasons to give up, O God. Help us not to do that. Help us to know that in the midst of all the despair we encounter in daily newscasts, you are indeed present in our lives, daring to bring hope in the midst of it all, and challenging us to do the same. Amen.

Pr. Barb

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