The Christian's conscience, like the mariner's compass, is more or less influenced by early associations. We can never permanently settle ourselves from the effects of the moral direction in which our prow was set, or the spiritual atmosphere that surrounded the laying and shaping of our keel. Because of these great channels and laws of influence no two Christians look out upon the sphere of duty from exactly the same standpoint; and we need nothing so much as charity to enable us to patiently meet and rightly construe the opinions and conduct of others, who, though perhaps equally conscious, may not be able to see eye to eye with us in many things pertaining to Christian character and conduct.I would have to say, this idea could be easily applied to anyone of any group to great effect. If we would all reflect upon those people and events that gave us all our forms, our ways of thinking, our survival tactics, and our biases (to name but a few), and understand that everyone else in the world has been through the same formative process with people and events far outside our range of experience, we might be able to better understand one another and be more respectful of our differing points of view. Recognizing that how our "prows were set and keels shaped" are inevitably going to differ, we might want to step back and try to imagine why the person who believes differently from us on any issue, large or small, has come to that position and try to have a discussion on the point rather than an argument about it. Rather than coming at every disagreement from a "I win, you lose ... unless you see the light and agree with me" mentality, we might want to change tactics and approach moments of disagreement as an opportunity to learn from one another. It might just make a world of difference in how we treat each other and how we get along in a ridiculously black and white, yes/no, my way or the highway age. Just a thought ...
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Understanding Our Differences, Acting More Charitably
Given in a sermon in Sabraton, West Virginia, on October 31, 1937, Reverend M. L. Hall reflected on the Christian need for a charitable approach to the varying views of others. Using the analogy of the Christian mariner, he wrote: