Listening Sessions and Town Halls

I’ve been thinking a lot about how if we are not careful, any listening session, any conversation, any time we gather together around any hot button issues in our connection can turn into of the town halls we are seeing right now across the nation. Or can turn into the cable news shows that reduce conversation to WWE style wrestling matches. We have lost the ability as a nation, and seemingly, as a church, to discuss things in a loving Christian manner. I was thinking about this is as I saw this story today.

Towns halls gone wild: After going on for several days now, who looks worse in this town-halls-gone-wild story? An Obama administration that promised a new era of American politics, but that isn’t delivering on it? A Republican Party/conservative movement — less than seven months removed from the White House — stoking this anger and hoping it returns them to power? American citizens who can’t treat their neighbors or elected officials with respect, even when they disagree? Or a media covering the story but also amplifying the exaggerations and outright lies being told at these town halls? Ah, the classic political story … nobody wins, we’re all losers in these eyes of the true silent majority: the radical middle? To look at this debate through the prism of campaign politics, has anyone raised their POSITIVE ratings or simply succeeded in raising the NEGATIVE ratings of an opponent?

The ability for our country to have a constructive conversation is being lost, just like I see happening in the church. I think in the end, with all the yelling and angry talk, this radical center, this centrist view gets lost among the yelling and the entire Body is harmed. We’ve got to recapture the idea of Christian conversation. But I fear as I see the culture loosing this ability, the church may fall in line with culture, if we haven’t already.

Two of my favorite disciples are Simeon the Zealot and Matthew (the tax collector). Zealots and tax collectors didn’t get along. Zealots wanted to over throw the government and perhaps the only people they hated more than Rome were the tax collectors. And Matthew, was a tax collector. And both of these, these two that came from opposite sides of the street these two that had opposite opinions, opposite foundations, found unity in Christ.
Now we don’t know what they may have talked about on those dark night when the rest of the 12 were asleep. Maybe they yell, maybe they argued. But, we do know they were united in mission and love of Christ.
Can’t we as the church do that? Isn’t that what we should be about? Isn’t that who we are? We talk about being in the world, but not of the world. In the issue of our voices, if we are not careful, we are treading close to being of the world. And we are more than that.

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