(Summer Shorts Question – 3)
Easton: This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright.
Melissa: Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rau and this is Summer Shorts. This summer, we’ve asked our listeners to share questions they have for Bishop. This is Question 3 of our 5 part series.
Chiminea from Georgia said, I feel as though people have lost respect of others choices. Rather than acknowledge our difference, people want to force their personal views on others. Which is actually not a question, Bishop.
But Stacy from Georgia had a good one. In light of Roe versus Wade being overturned, how do we remain empathetic toward others?
Rob: Wow, okay. Where do we start? You know, I think, running roughshod over people and being disrespectful or trying to coerce people are all enemies to what we would understand as Christian Fellowship, right? Those are sort of examples of not respecting the dignity of every human being, right?
And so, it’s sort of a crass and base way to do disagreement, right? I think what we’re called to do, if I’m reading my Bible right, is to disagree, but disagree perhaps with a different spirit. And so, we’ve got to sort of eradicate contempt, one for the other. I think that’s one. We are all talking about spiritual formation work, down into our own guts, right? Do you just disagree? Are your talking points differ? Or do you actually have contempt for the other person? I think that’s something we all have to investigate.
And nobody is exempt. I mean, you see this on the right and on the left if we want to use that language. You see this in all kinds of quarters. I think this is where we are in the culture. It’s sort of a scorched Earth approach to conversation, which just shows you that we’ve lost, I think, a better part of ourselves and how we hold these tensions and these very complex conversations.
So, I think that’s number one. We’ve got to all interrogate ourselves. Do we contribute to this? And when we look at our social media platform, and all these sorts of things, you know, are we contributing to the culture of disrespect of running roughshod over people? I think that we’ve got to do that interrogation. And we’re only responsible for ourselves. That’s the other thing too. I think people immediately race to sort of the penthouse view. Like what is happening in our country, and I understand it. But you and I are one person, right? And so, we’ve got to in our sphere of influence try to make Christ real.
And one of the ways we try to make Christ with real is being able to sit with people and hear past their talking points and hear their fears. Be curious, rather than defensive. It’s amazing that Jesus finds all these kinds of conversation partners who we otherwise– Yeah, you would be surprised that he would have–
One of the lessons that I learned again, in preparing for a sermon, was that Jesus was actually at the head of the Pharisee’s, right? So, Jesus is this sort of outlier guy. But he goes to a party at the head of the Pharisee’s house, right? And, you know, if you read the story, Jesus is not sort of blasting him, wagging his finger at him, etc. I mean, so what we realize is that we’ve got to find a way to connect. We have too. We have to find a way to connect. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re all going to agree on the reversal of Roe v. Wade, we’re not. We’re not. But how do we push forward? It was amazing to see, the day after that decision dropped, how many companies and corporations decided, Dick’s Sporting Goods and others, decided to then lay out for their employees how they were going to care for their employees who found themselves in a situation where they had chosen abortion was their way forward. And I was really struck by that. It wasn’t bombastic. There were no trumpets blaring. It was, this is the way that we will care for people going forward.
And so, I think we’ve got to think in those terms. I think we’ve got to really interrogate our motives. Yeah, who do we want to promote here? And I think that sometimes if we’re honest with ourselves, we want to promote our own ego. And we want to promote our own side of things. And I think there’s another way to find consensus.
Melissa: So, Bishop, you used a big word earlier on, you used the word contempt.
Melissa: And I feel like whenever I’m running up against something or someone with whom I disagree, contempt is often what is working on me. And I’m wondering how do we transform contempt in order to show up to those dialogues, those arguments?
Rob: Well, you know, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because what we’re talking about, you know, what makes us sort of more malleable and ready, I think, to sort of give and take is if we have a robust prayer life. And it’s a funny kind of thing, right? So, do you go deep in your prayer life for your neighbor? Do you go deep in your prayer life for those who disagree? Do you go deep in your prayer life for those who hate and who are enemy? I mean, Jesus says, “Pray for your enemy. Bless those who curse you.” Right? I mean, that’s Jesus’ spirituality. Jesus’ spirituality is not finger wagging in the public square.
And so, I mean, we’ve yet again have to ask ourselves, who is the Lord of our lives? Who is the Lord of our lives? And if that is Jesus, then we have to adopt, willingly adopt his spirituality and try to learn from it. And I think what he’s trying to teach us is that if we can bless those who curse us and we can pray for those who despitefully use us, pray for our enemies, that we deepen our sense of connectivity one to the other. And when we do that, that is a better place to have a conversation, especially a hard conversation.
But if you and I stay up at the veneer level, you know, transacting and ideas, simply ideas and talking points, we will never get a damn thing done, right? And so, the way we have made progress going forward is to get down deep into the fact.
I mean, Desmond Tutu, I mean, sorry to trot him out. And I was angry with Desmond Tutu, in his first book when it showed his letters with the Head, the then President of South Africa. And I thought to myself, sure, as I was going to read this, he was going to take these guys to task, and he was going to tell them what for, and he’s going to talk about their mom, and all kinds of stuff. I thought, for sure. And if I’m honest, I wanted him to. I wanted it, let them have it, Desmond. Let them have it. But he said, “You’re a grandfather, and I’m a grandfather. What kind of South Africa do we want for our grandchildren.” And I think that was out of his, up every morning at 4 a.m., talking to God, realizing whether he likes it or not, you and I are connected. And so, if we just castigate each other, try to set each other on fire, we make nothing. We make nothing. Hatred is an inferior building material. It’ll last for a little while, but ultimately to crash and crack, right? But love, deep neighborly love, soul force love, not the sentiment, is how you and I get weighed down deep and that’s how we make things happen.
And so, what people are saying when they get to this level of conversations, they’re not committed to that level. And it’s just easier to throw stones. It’s easier. Because I get to feel right.
Melissa: Dang, so I got to hit my knees.
Rob: Well, I mean, that’s the guy spiritual. That’s what he said.
Melissa: That’s right. That’s right. Well, Chiminea and Stacey, thank you so much for your–
Rob: Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.
Melissa: Well, I don’t know, right? I hope they are thanking you Bishop.
Rob: Bless you. Bless you.
Melissa: Listeners, thank you for listening to For People and our Summer Shorts. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. And we look forward to bringing you question number 4 next week.