Consider this piece of research:
To help promote peace in the Middle East, many organizations have established “peace camps” or similar conflict-resolution programs that bring Israelis and Palestinians together to foster greater understanding of the opposing group.
One common feature of such programs is the opportunity for members of each group to share stories about their lives with members of the other group. Now, a new study from MIT neuroscientists shows that the benefits from this exchange are much greater when members of the less empowered group share their stories with the traditionally dominant group than when the reverse occurs.
The finding, published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, supports the idea that for the disempowered group, the biggest barrier to reconciliation is the belief that their concerns are being ignored, says Rebecca Saxe, senior author of the study.
“If that sense of being neglected and disregarded and taken advantage of is the biggest obstacle to progress, from their perspective, then you can partly address that by providing an experience of being heard,” says Saxe, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences and associate member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120315110151.htm)
“Peace camps” are hard to find in our culture today. Polarized view points are solidified in the echo chambers of logarithms of social media that continue to feed us like minded feeds. We move from a position of curiosity to a position of confidence. So my position is right and the other is wrong. What happens is I want people to listen to my voice, but I am unwilling to listen to their voice which keeps us at odds and the chasm widening.
So how can things be different? When we fail, we have to turn to Jesus in repentance and for redirection.
James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Here’s what James teaches my heart. When I fail to stop and listen, I am more interested in listening to my own message, my own story. When I fail to listen to others and become arrogant that I am unwilling to listen to another, it is more than likely I am also having trouble listening the voice of Jesus and his words. The law condemns my pride and Jesus calls it to be replaced with humility that is a) willing to listen first to the voice of Jesus and b) willing to listen to the voice of others.
Listening to the voice of Jesus is our orientation point. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
When I take time to listen to Jesus’ voice, I begin to learn from him and see life from his perspective. Listening draws me closer to Jesus.
As my pride fades and I practice humility by first listening to Jesus, I can be “quick to listen” to others. Curiosity overcomes closed minds. Listening closes chasms. Being heard heals hearts.
And when we first take time to give another person a voice, you may be surprised that the voice you were so concerned everyone needed to hear…that other person might just give you a voice and listen to you.
Apply: Do you have someone who you keep at arm’s length because you disagree vehemently with them? Ask the Lord for courage to reach out and set up a time to connect and listen to their voice. How can God use you to create a “Peace Camp”?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for calling us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Forgive us when we fail. Empower us to be good listeners to you and your Word and to others. Amen.