MONDAY MEDITATION: Powerless Communication (September 20)

Be sure to make friends quickly with your opponents while you are with them on the way to court…When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. – Matthew 5:25a, 40

At one point there were a dozen court programs on TV. A dozen!

I believe they were popular because we know the human equivalent of a train wreck is about to happen and we want to see the carnage. A plaintiff and defendant have given up trying to reconcile their differences. It’s battle time. Two persons enter the courtroom, only one leaves victorious.

Going to court to settle differences is the ultimate breakdown in human interaction.

Jesus used this to make a point. Relate differently to someone with whom you disagree.

He would affirm what psychologist Adam Grant has called “powerless communication.” In a disagreement, you simply put aside your ego. Instead of asserting what you think is right, try to understand how the other person thinks they are right. Genuinely attempt to see life through their eyes. Ask questions that show real interest and respect.

This is a concrete expression of the radical love Jesus taught. It also demonstrates how seemingly impossible it is, because the only way we can love like this is to set aside that ego.

We need reminders that being “right” about something is secondary to being loving to someone. Maybe that’s what the cross should be: a reminder that what looks like a defeat may be a prelude to reconciliation.

True, reconciliation might never happen. But daring to be vulnerable is a spiritual victory, nonetheless. As the slogan goes,

The first to apologize is the bravest.

The first to forgive is the strongest.

The first to forget is the happiest.

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