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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

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I have many friends who aren’t churchgoers. They are all wonderful people – giving, thoughtful and committed friends – but church membership isn’t attractive to them.  And I understand what keeps them out of the church.  Many organized religions (my Protestant denomination included) have antiquated views on the role of women in society and on gay people.  And those views alienate many people and keep them from joining the church.

However, I tend to take a “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” approach to church. Yes, I know that our churches are imperfect institutions.  Why wouldn’t they be?  They are run by imperfect human beings.  But I can tolerate some of my church’s unenlightened views because the church offers me something that the rest of society cannot – civility.

When I go to church, I know that people are going to be polite. I know that they aren’t going to raise their voices (except in song), and I know that no one is going to be intentionally rude.  With the exception of Starbucks, where am I going to find people who know my name and are consistently nice, other than at church?  Nowhere.

We live in a society in which rudeness and aggression are deemed acceptable. We have a president who ridicules people.  Regularly.  And no one seems to be appalled by his behavior.  At political rallies, people shout bizarre rants, like “Lock her up.”  I can’t imagine shouting anything at a rally, much less shouting that a former First Lady and Secretary of State should be sent to jail.  My goodness.  Even if one holds that view, it is uncouth to shout about such a serious matter.

Even in families, our standards of behavior are lacking. I know families who allow their children to speak to each other rudely, and even cruelly, and the parents excuse such behavior as “sibling banter.”  It is no small wonder that these children grow up to be ill-mannered adults.

Kind words, compliments and expressions of gratitude are the oil that make our human relationships work. Showing restraint in what we say to others is equally important.  I will admit that my thoughts about other people are not always pleasant.  But I try not to say every unkind thought that pops into my head.  I value peaceful relationships more than I value speaking my mind.  And frankly, if other people aren’t asking for my negative opinion, then why on earth am I offering it up?

Part of being an emotionally mature person is interacting with others in a way that is consistently kind and respectful. That is a choice that mature people make.  If you want to be a mature person, you need to choose to be civil, regardless of your mood or what the other person has said or done.  Mature people choose to be consistently kind because they know that their actions are a reflection of who they are.

I’d like to see a return to civility in our world. I’d like to see society operate the way people do at my church.  At my church, we may not always agree, but we disagree respectfully.  We certainly don’t yell or ridicule one another.  Moreover, we always try to build each other up with compliments.  And we say “Thank You” – a lot.

At church, we have our problems, of course. We often are worried about our balance sheet.  And we don’t always agree about how modern or traditional our Sunday service should be.  In fact, we’ve disputed both those issues in just the last month.  But we don’t allow our differences to affect how we treat one another.  Because our differences are small details compared to what binds us together – our belief in the Bible as a life changing book, and our desire to serve God by making the world a better place.

So, when we do have disputes, we treat each other with kid gloves. We are careful to disagree but never to make our disagreements personal.  And if we can’t agree, we’d rather just drop the topic for a while, and focus on what we can agree on, and the good work that we can do.

I wonder what our country would look like if we, as Americans, operated in such a manner. I wonder what our world would look like if we, as human beings, operated with that kind of civility and compassion.  I suspect our world would be a very different place.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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