Last night I talked with a new friend. As we got to know each other, I sensed the underlying tension so many of us feel right now. She gently approached a topic, and I could almost see her holding her breath, uncertain of whether we saw it the same way.
We’re walking on eggshells around each other, aren’t we? Social media feels hard. People we used to talk with easily are people we now avoid. That neighbor we used to talk to across the fence is angry and lashing out. Everything feels polarized. It’s tricky.
Maybe that’s why a recent conversation with Ashley Abercrombie brought me to tears. She’s the author of the new book, Love is the Resistance: Learn to Disagree, Resolve the Conflicts You’ve Been Avoiding, and Create Real Change.
She reveals this about our struggle:
When it comes to disagreement, we are in perpetual fight-or-flight mode. Rather than respond with a posture of compassion and connection, we are encouraged to “resist” others personally and politically. Either we engage in fruitless arguments with people who refuse to see things our way or we retreat to our echo chambers where everyone agrees with us. But the real resistance, the kind that helps us grow, is learning to love others–especially those who disagree with us.
Ashley proposes a third way
She asks us to lead with love. I know that sounds simple, but it’s not. It requires that we suspend judgment to see the other person in front of you as someone God loves, even if you see things different. It asks us to stop taking sides long enough to hear someone else, to have a hard conversation and listen.
As I read Ashley’s book before our recording, I have to be honest, it was both a deep breath and at times, challenging. She boldly but gently walks into the division formed by politics (from either direction) with believers. She unabashedly challenges us to look at how we respond and hold it up to the call to love. She asks us to look at why we respond the way we do, why we believe the way we do, and to ask ourselves reflective and hard questions so that we can approach each other in that third way — with the love Jesus demonstrated and called us to. She also offers practical advice to help us get started.
And as we do so, there is a higher standard. One that asks us tor reflect Jesus even as we fight for justice, whether that is for the unborn or for the immigrant or for your neighbor, your sister, your friend. In no way does she shut us down, or ask us not to make a difference, but asks that we hear our words as they land in the heart of the unbelieving and to follow Jesus every step of the way. To put aside words that demand someone else see it the way you do, or else.
I hope you’ll listen to this More Than Small Talk conversation. As you do, you might hear something that causes tension or that challenges you, but my prayer is that you’ll hear the call for us all to love each other a little better and lead a hurting world to Jesus.
Resources just for you
- Check out the conversation between Holley Gerth, Jennifer Watson, myself, and Ashley Abercrombie on More Than Small Talk
- Ashley’s book, Love is the Resistance, is available for pre-order.
Ashley Abercrombie has served in multicultural urban ministry and justice work for more than 15 years and is passionate about justice, particularly racial justice, and anti-human trafficking initiatives. She is the podcast host of Why Tho? with Tiffany Bluhm.
What does it mean to follow Jesus in our everyday lives?
Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Jesus is a resource that invites you to listen, learn, and live what Jesus taught and how that changes you and those around you.
Every once in a while, God brings along a book you desperately need. Suzie Eller’s Come With Me brought a clarity and focus I’ve prayed for, reminding me that I don’t have to have all the answers . . . that I don’t need to figure out which way to go. My only job is to follow Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.–Joanna Weaver, author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World