Saturday, August 28, 2010
Conviction & Compassion: or What to do with my Democrat, Muslim, and Gay friends
I recently had dinner with a new friend here in Hong Kong. We had been talking about different cuisines and I had been bemoaning the fact that my favorite Lebanese restaurant had closed. When I told him of how much I missed the place and my love for Arabic and Mediterranean food his eyes lit up. "Steve, I am going to take you and Tammy to a Lebanese place you will really enjoy."
And did we! And as we conversed over lamb, humus, hot pita, and red wine he mentioned that although his family had emigrated to the West when he was a boy, he was in fact Palestinian originally and born in Jerusalem.
"Wow!" I thought. I have had a lot of of diverse friends but I had never had a Palestinian friend.
The evening turned out to be full of great conversation and it really got me reflecting. See, I'm a big supporter of Israel. Ever since I read Leon Uris' Exodus in high school I have been behind the establishment and defense of the modern Jewish homeland...and because of that, and knowing emotions can get passionate, I kept my mouth shut. Why?
Because he's my friend...
I think some of the vitriolic talk and bombastic assaults on different people groups, be they religious, ethnic, or social, come because often people don't have friends in those groups.
I'm a Republican...but the reason I don't join in on mindless banter slamming the Democrats is because...I have Democrat friends.
I don't support homosexuality or a homosexual lifestyle...but one of the reasons I rarely, if ever, blog on the issue is because I have gay friends.
I am a Christian and desire to share my faith with Muslims across the globe but the reason I don't engage in demeaning talk about Islam is because I have Muslim friends.
Its a shame some people believe if they show compassion, they sacrifice conviction. Nothing could be further from the truth. Compassion legitimizes conviction.
Jesus gave us the example. The Bible says he was friends with "publicans and sinners" He was friends with people whose lifestyles he wouldn't necessarily endorse or approve of. He didn't protest them, harm them, or even start a radio talk show claiming the end of the world if their evil agendas were allowed unchecked.
Instead, he loved them and became an example of a better way. His conviction was never lost in his compassion. He didn't tell the woman caught in adultery, "Your sins are forgiven, now follow your heart and if you really love this man, go and be happy." No...he forgave her (compassion) and told her to "Go, and sin no more," (conviction).
Now anyone that knows me knows I love good argument. I am quite happy to debate political, social, and religious issues just about anytime and anyplace...but I refuse to join the mob and too much of the American political landscape has been overrun by a mob mentality. Intellectual discourse has all but disappeared...and much of the reason is the balkinization of society into groups where people are only surrounded by other people that think like them.
Both sides of the political spectrum, Left & Right, are equally guilty but I have a solution...
Get more friends!