There is so much angry opinion in the media. Papers sell with blazing headlines. People put out an opinion on Twitter or Instagram and it is often met with a high level of emotion, positive but also negative. Social media publicises personal views that otherwise would have remained more private sound bites. Sadly there is precious little debate with room for holding different thoughts.
The psalms help us to pray for God’s guiding in our lives. Psalm 143 says:
let your kindly spirit lead me on a level path.
And later the same psalm prays:
For your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble.
We know what is not right. God shows us how to be right.
Respect is a value that I’ve been discussing in Kirk Fenton assemblies, especially in light of holding different opinions. Young people see things in simple terms and there is real hope that our children will be agents of change in this matter.
But I think for people who follow Jesus we are called to go deeper than surface level respect. Jesus teaches us to one another as we love ourselves. Think about it! If we choose to act out of love towards all people, including those who may be different to us, we will have no room for fear. To encounter all people as a gift will encourage us to start friendships rather than set up barriers. We will start from a point of connection and build from there. Debate and discussion may well lead to holding different opinions but the very act of listening and holding difference will provide a level path along which we can all walk.
To finish let me share a little of the story we talked about at school a week ago. It comes from 1 Kings: 7-16. Elijah was God’s prophet and he spoke with a poor widow from Zarephath. These two were different and yet God brought them together to show his love to them both. The woman baked bread and gave some to Elijah despite it being her last loaf. Elijah told her that God loved her and wanted to use her to miraculously provide for them. This woman was disregarded in her society and yet God valued her and gave her an important job. Elijah and the widow, despite their religious and cultural differences, listened and treated each other with respect and dignity and God blessed their encounter.
Let us go gently with one another with love and respect, asking God to lead us in our interactions with others next week.