Dirty Hands – Clean Hearts

How can you guard your heart without living behind barriers?

I believe we’re called to engage with our community, so I don’t want to create a protective bubble in which I only interact with people and ideas that never challenge me. I don’t think it’s mentally healthy to hang out only with Birds Of My Particular Feather.

But I’m sensitive to the subtle manner in which our spiritual enemy uses apparently harmless cultural influences to fill my mind and heart with garbage. I understand the reality of GIGO.

How do I challenge my thinking and understand other viewpoints while holding to my essential core values? How can I avoid living in a protective bubble without polluting my heart?

Where’s the line?

It’s not an easy line to discover, and I’m sure I wander frequently in both directions. However, for the two cents it’s worth, here are some of my thoughts about my personal “birds of a feather” mentality.

I consciously seek out competing viewpoints. I follow blogs with which I often disagree. I try to understand different sides of important issues. I can think of nothing more dangerous than relying on a single source, or a collection of single-minded sources, for information and analysis.

Respectful listening doesn’t mean I agree, but I find value in trying to understand other perspectives. I believe Jesus calls me to build bridges rather than barriers.

I remind myself that, more than ever, media competes for my attention. The primary tactics are sensationalism, artificially-generated conflict, and controversy. Much of what I hear is calculated to provoke emotions.

It’s tempting to cheer those with whom I agree and boo the others. Since I’m a fan of something bigger and more eternal, I try to look past the hype.

I avoid those who rant and attack others personally. Whether I agree or not, I refuse to listen to the angry rhetoric. I will not attend to the talking heads who promote ideological extremes.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I try to affirm the dignity and worth of those with whom I disagree. I sincerely believe that what unites us is more important than what divides us.

I try to discount labels. Conservative/liberal, Democrat/Republican, whatever—they’re words. Nobody’s evil or good based on the label. I try to understand what’s being said rather than accepting or rejecting based on some artificial category. I don’t believe God divides us based on such temporal criteria.

I try—and often fail—to assess based on my personal core values. I’m a follower of Jesus first. Politics, social mores, national allegiance—those are all a very distant second.

I cultivate close, transparent relationships with people who share those values. I share my heart as openly as I can with them and listen especially carefully to their counsel.

Those are some of my ways of resisting the temptation to flock only with birds who share my particular brand of feather. Your thoughts?

How do you keep this difficult balance?

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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