Dueling Decals vs. Dialogue

Bumper stickers provide people with a way to speak their minds in only a few words. In a way, you could say it's like Twitter on-the-move. The only difference is that Twitter allows for interaction, whereas bumper stickers make statements in passing.

It's ironic to me that people use car decals to express their views about hot-button topics like politics and religion. For instance, a guy I know has a "No-Bama" sticker on the bumper of his truck.

Rather than engage in constructive dialogue, we let our stickers do all the talking as we drive past one another.

It's interesting, too, when we pick up on the running dialogue between stickers. For example, one parent puts a sticker on their bumper that proudly recognizes their kid as an honor role student. Another parent, whose kid is apparently not on the honor roll, puts a sticker on their bumper insisting that their kid could beat up the kid who is on the honor roll.

Or think about the fish decals that are so prevalent. Originally there was a single fish that Christians would stick on their cars. In response came the fish that had little legs and "Darwin" in the middle. Not to be outdone, a new fish came on the scene with "Truth" in the middle of a legless fish who was eating the fish with legs!

We need to leave behind the dueling decals and engage one another in legitimate conversation.

A legitimate conversation requires dialogue. There's no place for anyone to shout down another person in the quest for truth. The events surrounding the life of Jesus were public events. They are, therefore, on the table for discussion, testimony, and dispute. Besides, if he is who Christians say he is, then we have no reason to fear honest, open two-way communication.

It's in dialogue, according to John Stott, that "Our defenses come down....[The other person] is a human being too, with sins and pains and frustrations and convictions. We come to respect his convictions, to feel with him in his pain. We still want to share the good news with him, for we care about it deeply, but we also care now about him with whom we want to share it" (Christian Mission in the Modern World, 108).

It's easier to speak than to listen, and it's easier to shout than to discuss. But people have reasons for thinking how they do and believing what they do. Not all reasons are equally justifiable, but they are reasons nevertheless.

Because listening is so difficult for so many of us, I conclude with a quote I found on a Starbucks cup: "You can learn a lot more from listening than you can from talking. Find someone you don't agree with in the slightest and ask them to explain themselves at length. Then take a seat, shut your mouth, and don't argue back. It's physically impossible to listen with your mouth open" ("The Way I See It," #280).

Those words are a good reminder for all of us, myself included.


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