Engaging Others

“With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Abraham Lincoln (Second Inaugural Address), 1865

So, Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.    Acts 17:22-23

Such wisdom from our 16th President of the United States. On this July 4th, it seems right to repeat the words of the greatest United States President. He had the task of healing a deeply divided United States just weeks before the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia by General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy. This essentially ended the American Civil War.   

On this July 4th, 2022 the United States is also deeply divided in many ways. Yet, healing is possible if we allow it to be. To the extent that we are willing to extend grace and understanding to those with whom we disagree, we can heal our divided country.

When Paul spoke with the Greeks at Mars Hill, he showed that he had respect for the quest for truth of those people for the “true God”.  Paul showed that he was willing to engage those people with whom he disagreed.  

In our current “culture wars”, we are not served well by intolerance and smug disregard for the ideas of others. Paul took the time to learn about the people with whom he disagreed because he loved them. He did not agree with them, but he loved them enough to listen to their ideas, even if he strongly disagreed.

Sounds like the start of real engagement.  

Prayer: Lord, give us the patience to hear before we answer, Amen

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