First off, let me simply and clearly state that I hold my beliefs because I think they are right. For most of what I believe, I find support in Scriptures. I hold my beliefs because they make sense to me. Much of what I believe is culturally conditioned and should be challenged, but I don’t always see it. When it comes to the beliefs of others, I have to admit that if I don’t like the person, I don’t like their beliefs. Even more true is that if I don’t like the belief, I don’t like the person.
Second, the beliefs I hold help me make sense of my world. They help me better understand why things are the way they are. They help me navigate life. Sometimes my beliefs change because I have new information. My beliefs have changed over time. Injury, loss, heartbreak, revelations, relationships, and other factors have broadened my field of vision and I have changed.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t have firm beliefs. In fact, many of my beliefs have become solidified and far less open to change. If anything, I guess I would say that the list of things I would die for, or even argue about, has gotten much smaller over time.
One of the key factors in helping shape my beliefs has been building relationships with people different than myself. It is really easy to have an opinion about someone when I don’t know that person. It is easy to dislike a caricature of someone rather than the real person.
It is easier to hold onto my beliefs if I don’t know anyone that is different from myself. It is much more comfortable for me to speak with people that all hold a similar political or economic viewpoint, or a religious point of view. There is friction when I share my beliefs and find out that the other persons beliefs are different from mine.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27.17
A knife is sharpened by friction. The rough edges are removed and the blade becomes sharp. It is able to do what it does with much less force because it has been sharpened. That is how loving each other is accomplished. We rub each other the wrong way.
If I am going to love other people the way Jesus loved me, it will be because friction was a part of the mix. It doesn’t mean compromising my deeply held beliefs. All I ask in these discussions is that they try to understand my beliefs. They don’t have to agree with them.
That is a two way street. Do I understand why they believe the things they believe? In the end of the whole shebang am I willing to agree to disagree?
In the process of my discussions and humanizing other people despite our differences, I believe I become more like Jesus. I know that I have become more loving of those that are radically different then me.
One final note: friction creates heat and that heat can become intense and uncomfortable. Don’t think that the process of becoming like Jesus is easy. Worth it? yes. Easy? No.
What do you think?