Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 20: Year 2
“He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the Way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.” (Acts 19: 8 and 9)
Paul shows that there are some people that just won’t believe. And we know that this is still true today. The only thing we can do in such a situation is leave. I would add that we should still keep them in prayer. But is serves no good purpose to stay and argue for the sake of arguing.
This type of arguing brings up another important problem to deal with. And that is, the “speaking evil of,” about the Way. I think is okay to “not agree,” but why do people then have to demean those whom they don’t agree with? I think it was Patrick Henry or Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who said, “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Regardless of who first said it, the greater point is the respect of the speaker without a sense of contempt for the speaker. I often tell my listeners that whatever they believe, it is what it is for right now. In an hour, or a year, it could change or evolve. It has, and continues to do so for me. We are all a work in progress. We must be patient and respectful of one another. We are all created in the Image of God.
Like Paul and his disciples, we can take our arguments elsewhere and continue. I really like being a citizen of these United States. Sometimes I forget that we are a country of united STATES. That means that different states have different values and priorities. And even those priorities and values change over time. We can stay where we are and strive for incremental change and improvement, or we can move to where likeminded people already live. We are a free country under one federal system where our vote rules. We elect our state governors, representatives and senators based on the majority of our values and then continue to argue for an even better life. We don’t all agree on any particular issue but hopefully, we don’t, (or will stop), lowering ourselves to demeaning, or speaking evil of, those who differ from us. We must be open to God appearing in them, and in their words also.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John