“Be right enough to believe, but never so right you can’t be wrong.”
I once had an exchange with an Episcopalian bishop who told me that although the Scriptures may be right, we as humans are often not so right. I will never forget his comment: “We must hold closely to our beliefs, but with modesty and humility, knowing that we—as humans—could be wrong!”
If only more people today could adopt such a mindset, we would have less divisiveness and more understanding.
In the very troubling divisiveness common in our culture today, I have noticed an increased number of “evangelists”—not religious evangelists but social ones. I have found that once politics enters the conversation, the dialogue slips quickly into a diatribe on whatever social or political belief held by the person I am speaking with.
When Dialogue Becomes Opportunity for Evangelism
Sadly, whenever strong “beliefs” enter a conversation, one or both of the conversants seem to default into lecture or evangelism-mode. Genuine conversation about differing opinions quickly become defensive bouts where each person attempts to convert the listeners to their beliefs.
And such evangelism NEVER works. We can’t change people’s minds. All we can do is inform and then let the dust settle where it may.
Personally, I have a handful of beliefs which I hold dearly—kindness, love, and compassion—which are also held by the great majority of Americans. Few will ever argue the value of these few essential virtues. Now… acting like it is a whole ’nother conversation.
But how about those ideals I believe in dearly, but are not universally agreed on? Politically I am a liberal conservative. My values are freedom (especially of speech), meritocracy (given a level playing field), and individualism. I also believe in a deity with personality (or personness) who created the entire cosmos by an expression of love, which is most evident in that mystery called Trinity.
Are these beliefs debatable? Absolutely. Do I feel that I am right? Absolutely. However… do I think I could be wrong? Once again, absolutely. But, still, it is on these beliefs I anchor my life and my love.
If you Believe, Act Like It
My objective concerning the communication of my beliefs is to inform or explain, with passion and sound thinking, not to convert. Do I hope that others come to understand and even believe in a compassionate and loving deity? Yes I do.
I also believe I have only one tool that might be used to stir others to reconsider their beliefs (or non-beliefs): The way I act. My actions, at least for the most part, must be consistent with my modestly held beliefs; if not, I then need to reconsider my own belief system.
What do I believe? Watch me, don’t listen to me. NOTE: I am preaching to myself in this post. Haha.
When Communicating Our Beliefs
Actions Works Better than Words
Photo courtesy of lilkar at istockphoto