So now that we have all of you with boots on the ground refusing to enter into gossip, rumors, and negative talk with friends about perceived enemies — now that there are so many of you, as Bob has suggested in his comments yesterday, being “loving, gracious, humble, and forgiving until the very end – whether we see results or not,” what do you think is going to happen? Now that many of you will be walking away or at least refusing to take part in conversations that are harmful to others even if they are your enemies, what difference might it make?
At the lowest level it might make someone think twice about their hateful attitude. It might lead others to be more empathetic — to even be open to the possibility that there might be another way to look at something than the way they have been. It might make someone more apt to talk about their own difference of opinion that they have kept hidden because it didn’t go along with the overall groupthink going on. Or it might make people mad at you, and that’s the chance you’ll have to take. That’s why your own humility is really important. Otherwise it will look like you are judging everyone and you’re the righteous one.
Ultimately it will give you an opportunity to talk about grace turned outward, because in this situation, you will be being grace turned outward. And when anyone questions you about being grace turned outward, that’s your opportunity to talk about God’s grace to you, because that’s where it all starts. It’s God’s grace towards us that makes us gracious towards others, whoever they are — enemies … friends … doesn’t matter.
If you take the time to listen to someone who disagrees with you, you will probably find out that they are not as stupid as you thought. From their perspective on things, they might even make some sense. This is what inevitably happens when you spend some time with someone who thinks differently from you.
I once heard of an experiment where, for an extended period of time like for a week or so, Republicans were guests in the homes of Democrats, and vice versa. In the end, they were all friends, and though no one actually changed their position on anything over which they disagreed, they all understood better the other point of view, and actually had respect for why the others thought the way they did.
Be careful. You might actually become friends with your enemies.