Thursday, January 3, 2013

Same Words, Different Orator

So, i flew to South Carolina a few weeks ago (rather, flew to Georgia to go to South Carolina). It was a fun trip. It was a blessing. I'm thankful for it.
But something happened on my return flight that i've been reflecting on quite a bit since then. The words of the woman seated beside me. As a conservative who measures somewhere in the farthest three points on every political analysis survey, and as a conservative Christian, this is going to sound almost like some sort of heresy for you to hear from me.
I make no small talk with fellow passengers. I sit quietly and appreciate when others do the same--i'm sitting for three hours, might as well sleep, right?
"Are you in school?" she asked me.
I responded with "Not yet," making excuses as to why i've not started. She asked what i was planning on taking, and i answered. Then she said she had taken history and religion. This sparked a conversation that would last the majority of the flight.
"Are you religious?" i asked, seeing this as a chance to hopefully spread the gospel with someone.
"I am a Muslim."
"Oh crap . . ." was what immediately went through my head. What came from my mouth was far more eloquent: "Oh really? I'm a Christian."

And yes, i've been reflecting on the words of a Muslim woman who i was talking to on a plane.
We talked about the differences in our religions (though i'm not 'religious'), and the ideas we're supposed to have of one another, according to society. We're supposed to hate each other, judging by what i've been told. But we had a more civilized discussion about faith than i do with many fellow Christians.

She asked how i felt about Joel Osteen. I said i didn't like his sermons because he doesn't preach on salvation, and because he preaches on material gain and earthly blessings/riches.
And i started "Jesus told the disciples that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of--"
I was cut off.
"--a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven?"
"Exactly . . ."

And here's what stuck out to me . . .
"I believe that worldly gain and favor isn't so much a blessing as the trials God puts us through."
That's what she said. She described a friend of her's situation that was just downright unpleasant, and concluded with "Because of that, i feel in my heart that God will bless her with things we can't see, like hope and faith."
I was immediately reminded of Paul speaking to the Church in Rome in the fifth chapter of Romans.
She went on, "We can't know the reasons for tragedies like that, and we may never know, but we have to believe that God has a purpose for everything. Otherwise, these trials are just depressing. But if we have faith, then God will bless us for our faith through times like that."

This was nothing i'd never heard before. I've heard it many times. From Christians. But the reason it made me think is because of the person saying it. It was put in a new light because it wasn't being heard from the same 'fountain', as it were.
I may overlook the words of a Christian, not because they're a Christian, but because i'm used to hearing things like that from a Christian. However, when i heard it from someone of a different faith than my own, i studied it a little harder.
Like reading an article about something you care deeply about, but having read a dozen other similar articles, you get to where you're skimming over it. You ignore most of what's being said, catching few sentences here and there. But when it's an article about the same thing, but written from a completely different perspective and/or style, you're more attentive; you read each line. You actually pay mind to what is being said. That's what happened there.
We need to stop being bored with what we hear, despite having heard it a thousand times before. Someone quotes a Bible verse you know and love, talk to them about it. It means one thing to you, but find out why it means what it does to them. Maybe listen to the words they accentuate or add emphasis to. Be intrigued. Listen to what they say about it, and find out why they're not bored with those same words you might get nothing from.

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