Do you ever list things? Many people make grocery lists or lists of supplies for a project or school. The other day I made a list of things that give me a headache. I don’t know why I did this but it was an eye opener.
Go ahead and try it. Even mentally I bet there is a pretty long and growing list of things that give you a headache. Some of our lists will probably be very similar, while others may not have anything the same on them. But it is unlikely that any two lists will be an exact match.
Some of the items on my list are American politics, government corruption, racism, abortion, poor treatment of indigenous people, and closed churches and open bars. I don’t have to explain my list and you don’t have to explain yours. If we did, it will be an essay and not a list. And I know of at least one person that would argue with me on almost every item anyway.
How do lists help? Let me explain.
We sometimes get the feeling that something isn’t right. Perhaps we are uncomfortable with a topic or an event but can’t figure out why. I believe that it is this sensation of undefined wrongness that makes mobs and mass hatred so easy.
Here is an example. Perhaps the news and the media outlets say that our government wants to pass a law that no one go into a store without a mask. People on social media claim it is against their right to wear a mask. Other people claim if you don’t wear a mask you are a murderer. As the discussion unfolds anger rises and there are protests and counter protests. You are uncomfortable with the whole situation. Why?
It is easy to be angry when you are passionate. But there are many people who feel uncomfortable and are not really sure why. When we make a list of the all the things associated with this controversy, it becomes clear where the real issues lay. Maybe you are truly offended by a government that tells you what to do. Maybe it reminds you of the mark of the beast described in Revelations. Maybe it is the anger that turns you off or the hatred that seems to rise out of nowhere so often these days.
Lists work for any issue by the way.
If you are having trouble understanding your spouse, make a list of the ways in which you don’t understand them and make a list of all the ways in which you do understand them. Look for exact opposites or matches and you will find clues as to what is really going on for you.
In this time of anger and division it is too easy to just disregard those who disagree with us. That is tragic enough but when we find ourselves being disgusted and spreading exaggerated fears about each other, it is time to call it a day. But before we cancel each other and spend the rest of our days hating those we once loved, make sure you know why their stance makes you uncomfortable. Maybe there is some one thing on your list that could be discussed without the violence. A kind of bridge if you will.
God made a list as well. They are the Ten Commandments. Then he showed us what they meant: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind is the greatest commandment of all. The second one is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12: 30-31).
There are several lists in the Bible. They clear up any confusion we should have about how we are to treat each other and about how to relate to God. God did this for a reason and that reason is help us in relationships with Himself, with others, and even with ourselves.
Lists clear things up. Lists that fall in line with the two greatest commandments that God gave us, help us love. We don’t have to agree, and in fact, we won’t usually agree on very much when it comes to politics and culture, but we can disagree in love. Lists also help us know what it is we actually do disagree on and what it is we do actually agree on.
If lists are good enough for God, they’re more than good enough for us.
Andy Becker is a retired counsellor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. Andy and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministry in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest areas. He is a retired counselor, speaker, and writer. Andy Becker is working on his second book about spiritual warfare. His first book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.