I love social media and staying up with people’s lives, even virtually, as much as I can; celebrating with them, praying with them, thinking with them, grieving with them, just “doing life together” as best as we can even when miles/jobs/life separates us. But I must confess that lately, it’s been really tempting to just stay off of social media because so much of what I read is so heavy, divisive, belittling, hateful, negative, and frankly disheartening…
Don’t get me wrong, I love passionate people. But as I was saying to Jake last night, I have never changed my mind or position on something because I was yelled at, sworn at, made fun of, belittled, degraded, made to feel insignificant, or made to feel like me — who I am — didn’t matter. If anything, whenever I have been made to feel those ways, it has only made me dig my feet in harder, listen less, surround myself with my own echo chamber, and want to justify my beliefs that much more.
In Matthew 5, Jesus told His disciples that, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
I don’t know about you, but these words of Jesus create tension in me in the midst of all that is going on in the world today. It’s tempting to refer to the words in Ecclesiastes that tell us there’s a season for everything and take the position that we are not in the “cooperating season” right now. But what if Jesus actually meant that in the times when we’re most tempted to compete and fight that that’s when, if we can model what it looks like to cooperate, we’re blessed and discover who we really are?
We can’t cooperate unless we can talk to each other, and I mean actually have a conversation, not just talk at each other. And we can’t actually talk unless we’re willing to listen to one another. For the past 8 months, I have watched so many people refuse to listen to each other, refuse to seek to understand someone else’s viewpoint.
What if we all took a deep breath and sought out someone who doesn’t see things the way we see them and seek to understand? Or are we too afraid that what we’ve always believed will suddenly be challenged that we can’t find it within ourselves to take the risk?
We’ve never been called to be uniform, just unified. But we’ll never reach unity unless we’re actually willing to listen to someone else, someone who doesn’t hold the same views that we do. If you don’t know anyone who fits in that category, that’s precisely the problem that we, in the United States, are dealing with right now… It feels like our circles are growing smaller and smaller as we seek to only hear our thoughts, beliefs, and ideals affirmed time and time again…
The definition of cooperate is “to work together; to work with another person or group to do something; to act in a way that makes something possible or likely; to associate with another or others for mutual benefit” (dictionary.com). I don’t know about you, but I am intrigued enough by Jesus’ words to want to experience a blessing I might not know through any other means.