I was challenged some weeks ago by a friend who contacted me privately and said she was no longer wanting to see my Facebook posts. It was not the topics, she said, it was the tone of the conversation contained in the comments, I interpreted that it was not only friends comments that offended but mine as well. It did give me reason to pause and look at my use of sarcasm, bighting back, being defensive etc. I do think I do ‘pretty well’, but can always improve. I do, however, feel that people can tend to shy away from confronting conversations. There is an argument that says Christians should not be arguing about ‘us’ in the public as it shows an image of disunity. Maybe. But I also feel (and have had friends who are not followers of Christ say) that its refreshing for them to see open frank, honest and respectful disagreements between believers. Its obvious we don’t all agree on every topic, lets create safe places of respect to dialogue, argue debate. Heck, we have plenty to talk about! Look at these three hot topics just from the past 12 months; 1) Aboriginal Racism (Adam Goodes, Remote Community closures); 2) Immigration/Refugees (Asylum seeker debate, Reclaim Australia, Islamic issues) and for number 3)…Gay Marriage and all the associated issues that go with that topic.
I attended a meeting with Dave Andrews around his book “The Jihad of Jesus“. He spoke of the many difficult moments of dialogue in certain groups. Dave handed out to our gathering a A4 sheet titled “Guidelines For Dialogue”, I thought it was worth a share.
Guidelines For Dialogue
We agree to;
Make an effort to relate respectfully to all people regardless of their faith.
Listen to what other people have to say.
Not tell other people what they believe, let them tell us.
And respect other’s views, even if we disagree with their views.
Be honest and sensitive in what we say.
Speak positively of our faith, not negatively about other’s
And not try to force other people to agree with our views.
Not treat people as a spokesperson for their faith
Nor judge people by what other people of their faith do.
Share our faith with sincerity, transparency, mercy and compassion.
Acknowledge both similarities and differences between our faiths.
Serve without strings attached.
Not exploit the vulnerability of people
Witness faithfully, but never ever try to induce or coerce a conversion.
Respect the choices others may make.
Accept them without resentment.
Encourage positive relationships between faith communities.
Encourage constructive relationships with the wider community.
Use our wisdom, knowledge, skills and resources to serve people.
Discuss problems that arise face to face to solve them peacefully.