Transparency and Respect in an Unsafe World

Arriving at my door at the end of an enjoyable walk this morning, I took a house key out of my pocket and tried to stick it into the doorknob keyhole. I could not get it in. After several attempts I gave up. Because it was a replacement key, made by duplicating the original, I assumed it was not made correctly. I did not want to stand in the hot sun for several hours waiting for my husband to come home and unlock the door. If he was not seriously busy, I knew he would rescue me, but I couldn’t call him because I had not taken my cell phone with me.

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I walked to the house of my nearest neighbor to ask for help but she was not home. So I sought help from a neighbor who lived further up the road. Even though I had never been in her house, Georgia (not her real name) graciously invited me in and handed me her phone. When I dialed my husband’s phone and received a busy signal, she invited me to sit down and chat. What could have ended up as a frustrating morning turned out to be an opportunity to make a new friend. We shared facts about our family, our interests, and a few other details about our lives.

Even though I did not know much about Georgia, I felt safe in going into her house and comfortable while talking with her. I believe my level of transparency was appropriate. What were the clues that gave me that feeling of safety? (1) I saw that Georgia was empathetic; she smiled and patiently listened while I told her my problem.  (2) I believed that I could trust her because she looked at me directly. (When people avert looking at me, I tend to think they may be hiding something.) (3) I knew from previous communications that she shared a common faith in Jesus Christ. That was the primary reason I felt secure enough to go to her door and ask for help and safe enough to enter her house and talk with her.

I wish that I could say that someone’s confession of faith in Jesus Christ guarantees gracious and truthful communication, as well as trustworthy behavior. Assuming so, I’ve been unwisely transparent in past situations. Sadly, at times I have lacked these qualities; therefore, I try not to judge and condemn others.

However, I feel grieved by the arrogant attitudes and disrespectful behavior some Christian people in the United States  are currently displaying toward those who disagree with them, especially in the political arena.  Our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That does not mean Christians, Muslims, Atheists, or any other people have the right to disrespect, manipulate, coerce, and mistreat people who are not in agreement with their faith, or who lack faith.

Jesus, who was called a friend of sinners, did not treat those who lied, cheated, and robbed others with disrespect. Instead, he offered them these fantastic options—freedom for those caught in compulsive and addictive behaviors, forgiveness for those who were sorrowful and repentant, healing for those with broken bodies and broken hearts, and hope for all who would place their trust in him.

How dare we, who call ourselves Christians, distort Jesus’ message of truth and grace by our disrespectful, manipulative, and coercive behavior!

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