Jesus argued a lot.
He seems to be arguing with the Pharisees a lot. (see Luke 13:10-17 or 14:1-5 for an example)
He tells stories, he argues, he rebukes, he scolds, he admonishes.
What Jesus does not do, is walk away. Disown. Disconnect. “Ghost” those pesky Pharisees and their pesky machinations.
Nope. Jesus keeps the conversation going, as difficult as it often gets.
Which is a message for me in these bitterly acrimonious times on social media and in the public sphere.
The Time Of The Echo Chamber
In this time when we are mutually hostile to those who don’t think or believe or act like we do…in this time of the “echo chamber” where we only listen to those who think and believe and act as we do…in this time, Jesus stands there and argues.
He tells pointed stories, his parables.
He uses example after example to speak to those who oppose him, those with whom he disagrees. Nonetheless Jesus continues to engage.
He is either dumb, or strong. He is either a fool, or he is a lover.
Don’t Give Up On Those You Love
Because you don’t give up on those you really, really love. It is shallow love that casts others aside because of differing world views. Ask any parent of a gay or trans child, ask any minister officiating at an interfaith marriage; it is bravery, and strength, and love, that makes you re-think what you knew about the boundaries you guarded, the culture you defended.
So when I hear Jesus arguing with the Pharisees, and arguing with the disciples, I see a person who is deeply committed to a relationship of love, of respect, of learning.
And I realize, Jesus had no “echo chamber”. Nor should I, if I dare to try and follow his example.
Difficult conversations abound in my family; gun control, politics, women’s rights, religious beliefs…and they beg me not to walk away. Even from my gun wielding family members, from my religiously conservative ones, from the people who enrage me with their attitudes!
I am not saying that I will stay and be beaten up. I am not asking you to be abused by others.
Mutual Love and Care
But I will try to begin from that place of mutual love and care, when I know it is there. And I will take the risk of being vulnerable and see if there is love enough, respect enough, to hear one another, and maybe, just maybe, find some new common ground. The ground of respectful disagreement.
I still have gun wielding, politically conservative family to whom I need to relate. And I hope they will still love me enough to try to relate to me.
Seems that Jesus’ family ran into trouble with him too (see Mark 3:31-35).
And his friends, sometimes misunderstood him.
And those who stood in a very different religious place disagreed with him.
But the conversations continued still.
Since I call myself a follower of Jesus, then I will continue too.
No “echo chamber”, but risk, and possibility.
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Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of SpokaneFaVS since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.