From the Pulpit October 22, 2016

According to 1 Peter 3: 8-9, God calls us to live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, be compassionate and humble. We are not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, so that we may also receive blessing.

How can something sound so simple, yet be so difficult to do? But it appears nearly impossible if one watches the Presidential Campaign. We are not to repay insult with insult, but with blessing. At the second debate, the candidates were asked “Would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

What a powerful question, and what a change in the atmosphere in that room, as well as in the homes of everyone watching. How sad that the question initially drew laughter, as if it were a prank question. But, I could feel everyone lean in to hear their answers.

In Clinical Pastoral Education, to become a hospital chaplain, we met in groups to discuss our chaplain experiences in the clinical settings. Each chaplain was to critique the other chaplains and offer growing edges, or suggestions for personal improvement. Before each chaplain could offer a critique, we first had to acknowledge the other chaplains’ attributes. After recognizing a chaplain’s strengths, we could then critique possible deficiencies.

How different this political season would be if each candidate had to provide three positive qualities before showcasing their opponent’s perceived shortcomings. What would happen if we learn to agree to disagree? Better yet, what if we learn to disagree without being disagreeable?