Monday, April 09, 2007

seek conversation beyond confrontation

The brokenness of this world is easy to find. It is also easy to ignore, at least for a time. I can hang out with people who are similar to me, call the people I want to talk with, email those who are on the same page with similar interests. I can talk about great things, honorable things, hard things, yet for what benefit?

In this upside-down world, the Gospel compels the believer to not be content with easy comfortable community. It not only compels, but equips as well. When it comes to talking with people outside natural affinity, confrontation often takes center stage. It could be a simple phone call to a credit card company or bank to straighten out some charges or a discussion with neighbors about an issue that's come up. More often than not I enter these kinds of encounters with one focus: what I need to get from it. "I" am the sole focus, which means the other person or people get left in the dust. Worse yet I can package it as nicely as I want to, thinking I am doing the right thing and even helping the other person out.

The Gospel equips by giving me glasses with which to see the world. These glasses break down cultural barriers and prejudices. They lay a simple foundation of love, dignity and respect, and only from this place can "conversation" take place beyond confrontation. The focus is on relationship instead of something earned or lost. The goal is further discussion and the ability to love well even those hard to love (which we all likely represent to someone else).

Living each day with this unspoken motto -- "seek conversation beyond confrontation" -- may not seem that radical. But try it on for a day or a week with intentionality and awareness. My gut is that my motivations aren't as good as I'd like to think. The beauty is that God restores my own brokenness even as I work through brokenness with others. And that is the glory of the Gospel...Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead that I might have life and joy in abundance. He exemplified this life of conversation and relationships, even while speaking some of the hardest truths. Even His confrontations bore the fingerprint of conversation in His humility, mercy, compassion and love. May this God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rm 15:13)

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