Lay Devotion with Kim Wu
In his speech at the 2020 National Prayer Breakfast, Arthur C. Brooks said America is in a “crisis of contempt.” We have allowed our anger at the other side to boil over into contempt, where we see them as worthless, having no redeeming value.
For 2021, I am reading a daily devotional by Timothy Keller on the Book of Proverbs – “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life”. One aspect of wisdom is insight, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “the result of apprehending the inner nature of things.” It’s looking underneath the surface, and understanding the complex nature of something.
In his book, Timothy Keller wrote that “Wisdom discerns multiple dimensions to people’s motives and character, rather than putting everyone into the binary categories of ‘good people’ and ‘bad people’.”
When we disagree with someone, we need to look beyond our quick and superficial understanding of what they believe and why we disagree with them, and develop some curiosity about who they are as people, made in the image of God, and how they have come to their beliefs. We will never come to any mutual understanding, or make any progress towards reconciliation, if our go-to response is to shame and exclude. As Arthur Brooks also said in his speech at the Prayer Breakfast, “No one has ever been insulted into agreement. You can only persuade with love.”
In this age of outrage and cancel culture, Christians are called to be countercultural. To be in the world but not of it. In the book of James, we read, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20) That’s hard work, but we are called to do hard things. G.K. Chesterton, a writer, philosopher, and lay theologian, said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.”
Heavenly Father, give us the humility and insight we need to make wise decisions. Help us to be gracious in the way we engage and disagree with others. Amen.