I met an old friend for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Throughout the years, we have had many deep discussions. Both of us have propped each other up many times in this complicated walk called life. How fortunate it is having a person to turn to when problems arise. They are a Godsend.
He was facing some challenges this day and asking for advice. To be candid, it was a dilemma about politics and the church. It caught me off guard and I uneasily waded into the conversation.
You see, he and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Though we differ on that front, I love him like a brother and always will. Our mutual respect for each other remains intact, no matter our party affiliations.
Matters of government are such hot-button issues these days and his situation was this. A few influential men, in church, publicly called out those that believe like my friend. He asked for my honest opinion. I told him, “That was wrong”.
As I looked into his hurting eyes, I got kind of angry and not at him. A couple of questions came to mind. Are we not divided enough as a nation? As Christians, our houses of worship should be simply that, about the worship of our Lord and Savior.
Do I believe strongly about my political opinion? Of course I do but so does he. That is the beauty of living in America, the freedom to choose and think as one feels. No one should feel coerced into changing or be berated for how they vote. That road of individual liberty runs in both directions.
Tolerance was what I attempted to convey to my buddy. Think about how many times Jesus demonstrated it. In the house of the Lord, the Christian should be the bigger person and His example.
As I told my friend these things, the Lord was teaching me a lesson as well. He often does that if I will stop long enough to listen to Him. The thing about giving advice, (or writing articles), is this. Am I following my own advice and opinions?
It hit me long after our lunch ended. Replaying our discussion over in my head, it was like my words aimed at him ricocheted back at me. I could very well have been talking to myself in the mirror. I needed to hear my own advice on tolerance. Often, it is a struggle.
I remember several years ago, talking to another friend about anger. He was triggered very easily. He asked me one day how I was not bothered by “certain people”. I told him something I still cling to today.
I said, “The vast majority of confrontations are minor in scope.
When someone says or does something I disagree with, I think of the yield sign in traffic. I simply yield.”
The next day when I saw him, he had a small sign attached to his chest that read, “I yield”. He was a different man after that. No, he did not wear the little sign for long, for the point was heard and taken. He began his march of tolerance and became the bigger person in confrontations.