I’ve been fortunate over the past few weeks to have multiple opportunities to converse with people who are bright, independent thinkers. As I bore when I’m stuck at surface level for very long, critical thinkers carry a lot of value to me. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share some email back and forth with a friend whose mind has intrigued me since I was in middle school. He’s confident, assertive, creative and approaches the world from a totally different perspective than I do. What I find even more remarkable is that he and I reject some of the same things you find in modern society because they deny the truth — we just happen to have different ideas about what “truth” really is.
Fact is, we do ourselves NO favors when we surround ourselves only with people who see the world the same way we do. A comfortable mind is a mind that is dying. I’m a firm believer that we must be in position to have our notions challenged. To think you have truth in your life without having someone challenge your notions is absurd. If my beliefs are real, then they’ll stand regardless of the challenges to them. If they waver, then it pushes me to question them at deeper foundational levels where they either become strengthened or they are fundamentally changed. Failure to be willing to listen and weigh differing opinions typically means one of two conditions is present: a person is too prideful to open the door to the possibility they could be wrong or a person is so desperate to be numb (and/or myopic) that they don’t want anything stirred up. Either condition is unfortunate because it prevents one from growing through seeking out the truth. I respect very much those who will let me share my beliefs and those who address them respectfully, even when they think me a fool for believing that way. It shows me where my position is strong and it reveals where my position is weak. Ultimately, it allows me to understand both my neighbor’s perspective and my perspective better.
If the differences between you and another cause you to prefer distance, you’re not looking at the right things in that person. Every person is built in the image of God, which means that everyone has characteristics worthy of our honor. But I’ll warn you, if you start to honor those things in your neighbor, you may actually begin to care about them. And if we get a bunch of people who care about others that are different from them, what kind of pandemonium will that unleash? A changed culture where pride is reduced and numbness is lost? Where individuals are honored even though they’re human and a reduction of hate? A desire for your neighbor to be blessed that is more powerful than your envy? Sheesh, do we really want this? Loving everyone, not just those that are most like us? Who’d stand for such a thing? Who’d die for such a thing?
Today, I thank my friends and readers who disagree with me for continuing to read what I write. I encourage you to tell me more often when you think I’m off the mark.