Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Podcasts are new to me. In my day, says the old wrinkled lady with the cane, if we wanted news we had to read the newspaper or a magazine or wait for Walter Cronkite to come on the television at 6:30. Then, news was presented to us like a one-sided conversation. We couldn’t talk back to the reporter and give them our opinion. Now, anyone can record their thoughts or an interview and post it on the Internet for all to hear. And those podcasts can be done in “real time” so that they are relevant, not stale news from yesterday. I like podcasts. I enjoy hearing my favorite authors, speakers or teachers tell about their books or talk about changes in our society. Their words provoke me to think, to act and sometimes, to change my mind. A recent conversation between Jen Hatmaker and Brett Trapp (now, B. T. Harmon) had great relevance to our world today. A world where all of us carry around our soapbox and are quick to spout off our opinion, but not so quick to listen to someone else’s. Of all people in this world, Brett, who is gay, has a reason to be angry and rigid in his thinking; unforgiving for the way that the world treats him and others like him, particularly the church. But, that is not at all what he believes. In fact, his message is of reconciliation and forgiveness. I will let Brett’s own words explain,
I am just saying, so many people waste so much time in their anger. And I think there’s a time to be angry, and there’s a time to fill the streets with our righteous anger, but I think we have got to just be so careful with that.
I have tried and worked really hard on my own soul to stay in a really healthy place and avoid the path of bitterness. I see a lot of people going down this path where they have been wronged, and they have been treated unjustly, and I have so much compassion for that. But it is leading them down this dark, dark path. When we dwell and when we simmer on those things, that can really begin to infect our character.
And so I just don’t think we have time to sit around all day hating other people. I think we have gotten to the day we’ve got to give people the space to believe how they believe. Even when they . . . we disagree with them, even when we are convinced that they are wrong and we are right. People are doing the best that they can with the knowledge that they have and, yes, sometimes that leads down some bad paths. But we don’t want to allow oppression and injustice.
In our personal lives, if we just know that someone mentally or ideologically disagrees with us, I take the position that I’m going to give them the space for that. I’m not going to hold that against them, I’m not going to assume they’re a terrible, mean, hateful, or bigoted person.
I think the second part of that is resisting the desire to change people. I did this for so long. I tried to pound the table, and make my case, and use the best argumentation that I could to change people. Jen, I just came to the point—I feel like it was God teaching me this—it’s an unhealthy compulsion, it’s an idol, whatever you want to call it. The compulsive need to set people straight, to change them, it’s just not healthy. So I have just given up on that. I don’t have a desire to change people.
I would like to think that I can be a person of influence. And if I am telling the truth in a respectful way, maybe over time they will choose to change. That’s not my job, and so I just think a lot of us, we’ve got to stop wandering in the desert looking for validation from everyone.
Hmm, something to think about isn’t it? Words of wisdom for a world so full to hate and arguing; people unwilling to listen to opposing opinions. I can’t help thinking that we can learn a lot from listening and not just to podcasts!