Acts 21, tells the story of how when Paul returned to Jerusalem some of the Jewish people grabbed him and started yelling “Friends, help us! This man goes around everywhere, saying bad things about our nation and about the Law of Moses and about this temple” (Acts 21:28).

When the rioting crowd was brought to order by a Roman army commander, Paul was allowed to speak. He told them that he was also Jewish and that for a long time, he had persecuted and even killed those who followed the Lord’s Way. He talked about his life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and how Jesus told him “…tell everyone what you have seen and heard and go far away to the Gentiles”.

When he mentioned the word “Gentiles” the crowd erupted again. “Get rid of this man! He doesn’t deserve to live” (Acts 22:22).

When I read this story, I thought Paul’s detractors were closed-minded. Rigid in their thinking. But then it dawned on me… before I could throw the first stone at Paul’s audience or indeed any audience, I first needed to check in on my own “mindedness”.

Where am I like that in my life?

Am I holding tight to the opinions I have or am I actively listening to learn?

What is it I am opposing and why is the other viewpoint challenging me?

And… why are my arms folded? And my brows creased?

It can be hard to hear the voices of those whose perspectives are different from ours. It’s a battle – resisting their ideas and defending ours.

If we gave the same curiosity and interest we want TO others, could we find understanding and a peaceful middle ground?

Answers are closed rooms and questions are open doors that invite us in. Nancy Willard

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

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