I’m not a regular churchgoer these days. The world seems so broken that political activism strikes me as a more necessary, effective way to do good. But last Sunday I heard a sermon that hit home, hard. I quote it here in part to show that conservative politics do not have a monopoly among clergy members.
The sermon explicates a Bible passage in which Jesus feels offended by someone and responds with, well, offensiveness right back. (This unsettles us; we like to think him unfailingly kind and supportive.) In this case the person who has approached him is both female and foreign--two strikes against her!--and what she wants is for Jesus to heal her daughter, another female: strike 3.
I pricked up my ears when my pastor said, “These days, if someone said something like [Jesus’s rebuke] to one of us, the word ‘racist’ would probably come to mind.” But then he pointed out that instead of getting offended in return, and walking away in anger or insulting Jesus back, the woman replies with humility. (And humor, added a family member of mine who heard the same Bible passage sermonized in a church hundreds of miles away.)
Humility and humor are great traits to exhibit in tense situations. So is listening, my pastor pointed out. In this Bible story, the woman’s daughter ends up being healed--and Jesus goes on to heal another supplicant, a man who was deaf and dumb.
Deaf and dumb (both senses of the word) is how people with opposing views appear to each other these days. Only by talking and listening to each other, preferably with humility and a sense of humor, will we ever get past our differences.
Then again, if all we do--if all we want to do--is spout off with our own opinions, we'll remain stuck where we are.