Several days ago, i was walking out of a Walmart when i saw a guy standing behind some tables right beyond the door. Somehow, i hadn’t seen him going in, but i noticed him immediately as i walked out. He was, after all, hard to miss with his many political signs.
“Life in prison for all child molesters!”
“Stop destroying human life in Iraq!”
People like that intrigue me. I have some pretty strong beliefs about issues like that too, but i’ve never been outside walmart displaying my beliefs on a sign.
So, i walked up to the man to have a conversation. I was curious. I didn’t really know what he was trying to say with his signs. I wasn’t even sure whether i would agree or disagree with him. I simply wanted to talk and try to understand his perspective on these issues. Maybe, and i know this is a long shot, he would say something that would help me think about these concerns that i hadn’t considered before. I just wanted a conversation.
“You wanna sign my petition?” He asked.
“No. Not yet anyway. I was just hoping you could tell me a little bit about your perspective on these issues.”
“Well,” he replied, “if you sign this one you will be helping us get rid of all the tax that is in the cost of gasoline in the State of Washington.”
Ok. I don’t like the price of fuel, but i wasn’t really there to sign anything. I simply wanted to talk.
“What about this whole child molester thing? What is your perspective about that issue?”
He pointed to a one sentence paragraph on the top of another petition. “Just read it. It’s right there.”
The sentence said something to the effect of raising the maximum penalty for first-time child sex-predators to life in prison. But, really, i had already got that from the sign. I was looking for a little discussion on the ramifications of that and why he thought that this might be the best solution.
So getting a little frustrated, I replied, “Ok, but what is YOUR perspective on this? How would this work?”
“Look,” he said. “Your not voting for it right now. Your just signing so it gets on the ballot and we can let people vote on it later. Why don’t you sign this one over here, it’s about bringing home the troops from Iraq.”
“Well, i’m not really sure i want to sign anything right now,” I re-stated. Was he even hearing me or just repeating what he had been trained to say. “I just wanna tal-.”
“Aright, are you planning on signing anything or am i just wasting my time?” he blurted out, cutting me off and getting annoyed.
“Well, no, i don’t think i’m gonna sign anything.”
No sooner had i said those words than he turned his back to me, started setting up another part of his display and completely ignored me.
So much for conversation.
Seems like it is hard to have a real conversation with people anymore, doesn’t it? Rather than sit down and discuss complex problems such as child-molesters, fuel costs, and war and their equally complex solutions, we would often rather reduce our personal beliefs to a simple sentence and see how many people will sign off with their approval. If you don’t agree, or in my case aren’t sure, well then we just don’t have time for you.
It is no wonder we live in such a divided nation.
I suppose my interaction that day got me thinking about my own response to people around me when they aren’t in agreement with my personal beliefs or haven’t come to a solid conclusion yet. It got me thinking about church and the way we as a group deal with people who don’t see life our way, or have yet to really decide one way or the other.
Maybe I have been as guilty as this petition-guy, at not getting involved in the humble and messy endeavor of “conversation” or “dialogue” and been too quick to dismiss people. Maybe the church that i love has been too eager to do the same.
That is why a new movie that is just coming out has been so powerful to me. Now, i’m not normally in the business of promoting movies, but in this case the movie itself carries a message that i think we all need to hear.
The movie: “Lord Save us from Your Followers.” www.lordsaveusthemovie.com
We recently screened this movie at our church, with the director of the movie, Dan Merchant, there to help explain and discuss what we had seen. Though I was a little nervous about the response, the packed auditorium of people gave it a standing ovation at the conclusion.
The movie is a beautiful breath of fresh air about the need for us to lose ourselves in the lives of others. To look first to the sin inside of us rather than pointing out the sin of others. And most importantly, to exercise humility, compassion and respect in having dialogue with many different people who don’t necessarily agree with any one of our own personal or religious convictions.
It was Dan’s own words this weekend that touched me most. In response to a criticism at the end he responded by saying, ” You are right, the truth does divide. But, lets just make sure it is the truth doing the dividing and not us.”
This is a great movie with a greater message. There is no way i could recommend this movie any higher. It is truly amazing and needed.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, you can screen it at the website: www.lordsaveusthemovie.com. If you have seen it and enjoyed it, there are several other resources i would recommend very highly to you along the same vein.
1) “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd
2) “Jesus for President” by Shane Claiborne
These are two great books that compliment well and continue the discussion.
May we never respond to people the way the petition guy responded to me. And may we always be willing to love and respect others above ourselves.
Woo hoo! First comment!
Anyways, I know that you and I have been talking about things like this for a while leading up to the screening. As one that went to Folklife not too long ago, I also saw people like those who were busy shoving ideals down people throats without event trying to communicate what exactly the message they were bringing out. So instead of a more deeper reason, all you got was, “THE RAPTURE IS COMING! PUT YOUR FAITH INGOD OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL!”
Been there, done that.
Unlike you I didn’t have the balls to come up to them and ask them to talk more about their position. However, I had met up with a friend of mine later that day who was approached by those guys and he couldn’t even get a minute of their time to explain exactly what their signs and yelling were all about. My friend asked, “Tell me more about this.” and the man simply pointed at the same kind of one sentence paragraph describing who Jesus was.
I’m wondering who would get a better reaction: Bullhorn Guy talking about the rapture or Bumper-Sticker Man asking 5 simple questions. Find out at the next PPV on VS Network!
This thing can also happen in a simple thing called judgement. There are numerous people who don’t like me. More power to them, they have the freedom to decide who they like and don’t like. But time and again I consistently meet a person who doesn’t like me and has absolutely no reason why they don’t like me.
I have met people in my school and I have confronted them and asked why they don’t like me. Some people say it’s because I’m a horrible musician. Others because I’m openly Christian. Still others becae of my lack of fashion sense. Personally, I would accept any sort of these answers because they anwered the question and usually I am able to open up a new conversation with them.
These people who judge me without giving me a reason have probably never even spent more than 5 minutes with me. Not too long ago I was at a social event where this girl told me to move down because she thought at one point I would annoy her. I have never been in a conversation with this girl more than 8 minutes and she automatically thinks that I would annoy her? Interesting. I want to know more.
Maybe I am annoying. I wouldn’t know. Nobody tells me upfront and backs up that I am an annoying person. More power to her if she can tell me why.
I don’t know if this relates to the point you’re conveying, but I just wanted to say that what ever sort of judgement you’re trying to convey, whether it’s about the high prices of oil or the fact that I’m annoying, I always want to know why and at least get more than a one sentence description.
Anyways, sorry for wasting time. I just wanted to have a conversation.
You’ve had some really thought provoking posts lately. This particular topic is one that i’ve wrestled with. How am i as a Christian, a follower of Yeshua, to treat the people around me? The vocal response of some “Christians” against sinful behavior/choices rubs me the wrong way and leaves me wondering where the love is. Perhaps the fact that we live in America, where the founding fathers were influenced by Judeo-Christian principles in defining our form of government, causes us to feel that Christian behaviors should be the norm and adopted lifestyle of “Americans”. The fact is that we live in a fallen world. We are all sinners. How can we expect sinners to live a holy life without the power of the Holy Spirit?? But then again on the flip side, are we to remain silent on some of those issues or does that silence translate into acceptance by default. Hence my dilemma. I’d be interested in seeing the film in its entirety so if anyone knows where another screening may be held, please let me know. I guess for now, i need to be willing to start dialoguing with people to learn their stories and perhaps by learning to hear their heart’s cry, God may give me the words to speak grace and truth to them. May He help all of us to be the true Jesus to the lost world.
Good stuff bro. I know that it might not be uploaded yet, but you HAVE to listen to Erwin’s sermon from last night. Its very similar to what you are talking about. I’ll tell him you say hey when I see him on Friday, ok? 😛