Do Your Best Until You Know Better
I've been practicing what I preached, and it hasn't been easy.
I gave my congregation homework to do after the last two sermons that I preached as part of a sermon series we've been doing at my church. The sermon series is entitled "Under God?" and it's a series focused on exploring how Christians can be peacemakers during times of division and contention.
In case you weren't aware, we live in a particularly divided culture. We're divided over politics, religion, social issues and a whole lot more.
I told my congregation that one of the many ways that we can bridge these gaps is to spend time listening, reading and engaging people with whom we have disagreements. And I gave them homework to do just that.
However, it's been a challenge for me to change news outlets, read different authors and try to engage in conversations with people who hold different views than I do on the aforementioned issues.
But I have learned some things.
First, I found lots of moments of resonance with the people I have deep disagreements with, and that was heartening. I also began to see some of the holes in my own arguments, and realized that there have been a number of issues I needed to know more about before stating my opinions about them.
I also realized that I need to do better about my reactions when I hear people say things or post things on social media that get under my skin. I need to do better about demonizing people because of my assumptions about them--even when they say or do things that anger me.
This week I came across this wonderful quote from the poet Maya Angelou, who wrote:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”The Apostle Paul once exhorted early Christians that they should try if it was "at all possible" to live peaceably with all people. I always used to hang on the phrase "if at all possible," and would fall back on the idea that with some people it's just not possible to live peaceably with, so why bother?
What I'm learning now is that it's up to us to determine what is possible when it comes to living peaceably with others. We have choices to make about conflict with others. We have choices to make about whether we stay divided with others.
We have choices to make when it comes to doing our best until we can know better, be better and then eventually do better as a society.
And for those of us who claim to follow Jesus, we need to know something very important: The Kingdom of God is not in trouble.
Let that sink in a moment. We may feel as though things are going to hell in a hand basket, but the Kingdom of God is not in trouble. And you and I are set free to do our best... to learn how to know better... to be better.
God has everything else under control.
May this be true in your heart and in your life and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.