There are few things that I know to be true, but in the past year of participating in the spaces that OneTable has created for dialogue, I did learn at least one truth. This truth is that we, as the body of Christ, need to be quicker to listen than to speak. The writer of the book of James in the Bible says,
I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write this month for the Level Ground blog, but there are far more and far better writers who break down and discuss the topics that have made the news cycles these past few weeks and I have nothing more eloquent to write on those topics.
What I can write is an encouragement.
The divine act of listening allows us to imagine that we are living the life of the other, and therefore to empathize with them. Listening increases the space in which we can reflect, and it amplifies history so that it is not contained in the lifespan of one news cycle. When we actively listen, then we give other lives the opportunity to change us forever! If you have never listened to the story of your LGBT brother or sister, then I encourage you to begin now. And then continue to improve your listening skills. In the Gospels, before Jesus performed healing miracles, he asked first and listened to the requests of supplicants.
To those doubters who think that affirming Christians are throwing away the Word of God: listen and be slow to speak. To those affirming Christians who want to see change happen more quickly: listen and be slow to speak. The body of Christ, like the real body, is a system of balances, and we must listen to what the whole body is saying before we think that we are ready to act. We need to listen to our sisters and brothers: those most upset and concerned about recent political changes as well as members of the LGBTQI community who long to live in a world free from the fear of violence and hate. They are we. And we need to be slower to speak, and quicker to listen to their stories.
Do we think that we can so quickly get at the truth? This is the generation that has seen amazingly rapid changes in technology and communication. But not all of that communication has been edifying. We have set entire nations on fire. I encourage all of my brothers and sisters (conservative or liberal; immigrant or American; male and female) to engage in the divine act of breaking bread within community, engaging and listening.