LUKE 6:37-38: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Have I lost the spirit of dialogue in the age of polarized ideologies? In the current political discourse that is taking part in our nation, do I find myself judging and condemning, or listening and forgiving. In light of the recent shooting at the Parkland School in Florida, and the rising national debate, as a Christian I need to seriously consider these questions.
This meditation brought me back to an event that took place in my Junior year of High School. I went to a racially diverse school. There was probably an equal mix of white, Hispanic, and black students. In both my Freshman and Junior years we experienced serious racial rioting. This rioting was not started from within our own campus, but others who came on to our campus and incited the rioting. As a young man I was deeply stirred within my heart.
Much like the conversations between students and governing officials that is now taking place, a special public meeting of the School Board was held to discuss this racial strife. Fortunately no one had been killed, but many had been hurt, and some taken to the hospital. Impassioned that something had to be done, and against my father’s wishes, I went to this meeting and stood up to speak to those assembled in the room. I knew as a youth something had to be done!
My speech was an impassioned plea for bussing students to fully integrate all schools. This was one of the items that was being proposed to address the racial strife. I did not fully understand the issue, nor did I have the capacity to fully grasp all the interrelated logistics and ramifications. However, I knew something had to be done. I also determined that I would get involved in student government to try and make a difference.
What happened next amazed me. My father had rushed to the meeting hall to stop me, but then stood in the back and listened to me speak. He later told me that he was proud of me. After this speech I began to receive phone calls from people who wanted to exploit a young youth for their own political purpose, and my parents started to receive hate mail and phone calls. The heart of man has not changed. In the midst of a heated issue most people take sides and lash out with judgment and condemnation.
What I learned later in life is that bussing would not have been the solution that would have addressed the racial strife we were experiencing. Yet, something wonderful happened in my Senior year in High School. I made efforts to reach across all racial divides. I attended the Black Student Union dance (I was the only white person there). As Senior Class President I planned Senior Trips and asked key Hispanic and black students to help me promote it. We reserved Shakey’s Pizza Parlor for Senior Students and their guests after the football games, and the room was filled with people of all races. We were no longer white, Hispanic, and black students – we were Ganesha Giants!
There were no racial riots that year. It was not due to what I did, but it was a collective response in the hearts of all the students who begin to listen to one another and look past the angry dialogue. We did not all agree on everything, but we found common ground. To this day I have stayed in contact with so many of these dear friends from my High School Days. We have celebrated in our Class Reunions and stayed up to date in each other’s lives through Facebook. And when I look at these friends I do not see any color or political party – I see friends!
We have a problem with violence and killing in our culture. It is time for Christians to lead the way and show the world a spirit of love, compassion, respect, and dialogue. We may not agree on the solution, and the solution we are holding so tightly may not be ultimately the correct one. However, if we follow Jesus’ commands and hold our judgment and condemnation, perhaps we can find out that we all really want the same thing.
We want our children and youth to be safe when they go to school. We want an end to the violence in our public schools and our public squares.
Some may object that this will never take place because of the evil that is within man’s heart. Jesus came to change the heart of man. My heart as a youth was filled with hurt and anger, but through faith in Jesus Christ I have been set free from this angst, and have committed my life to proclaiming the Good News of God’s Love through Jesus Christ. I would rather die trying to see change take place in both the hearts of men and women, then give up and embrace the anger and hatred that is in our world.
Perhaps if we laid down our swords, and picked up His Cross we could begin to listen to one another. Lord, may I take up Your Cross today, die to myself, and truly listen to and love others as You did when You walked this earth!
In Jesus Name!