What is a Shivaree? A coworker explained during high school it was a custom in Northwest Arkansas. It was a custom I had never heard of and hoped I would never experience. He explained it was part of the wedding night celebration. The newlywed’s friends would circle their home, creating a loud ruckus for hours usually accompanied by threats to come in and drag the bride or groom outside. At times the threat would become reality. Imagine a bride in her nightgown paraded outside in a wheelbarrow. Do you think they could “feel the love” of those standing outside?
Those on opposite sides do not always appreciate how those on the other side genuinely feel. Perhaps that is why God gave us two ears and one mouth. Both sides need to hear each other’s legitimate and illegitimate concerns. Most persons and groups want to influence not irritate those with whom they disagree. How can we help them hear each other?
First, be informed. Listen carefully when told someone “said” something you believe is wrong. Confirm the truth. What is the source? Sometimes it is “reported” that someone said. Who reported? Did they cite their sources? Context is important to accurately understand facts.
The recent gnashing of teeth over Trump’s proposed cap of 50,000 refugees annually is not much of a reduction. The U.S. State Department website records the annual average of refugee admissions into the U.S. over the 2000-2015 period was 54,600.
Second, be respectful. Be careful of calling names. Make sure you are not what you accuse the other of. The college Republicans at UC Berkley invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak. The police canceled the talk after 150 masked agitators threw Molotov cocktails, smashed windows where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak and threw rocks and fireworks at the police.
They were incensed that such a bigoted, intolerant, hateful person would speak on campus. A bigot is “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion”. Was Yiannopoulos or the protestors the most bigoted and intolerant last Wednesday?
It may be legal to protest, but some times and places are more respectful than others. Respect builds goodwill and is fair to all. It helps both sides truly hear the thoughts and emotions of their opponents.
Third, do not miss an opportunity to bless. A person being blessed is more open than one being cursed. Gen. 1:27 records, “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”. Everyone is a person of worth regardless of race, creed, or gender. Undocumented workers and their families are precious human beings created in the image of God, not illegal aliens almost less than human.
The Mosaic law frequently associates aliens and strangers with widows, orphans, the poor and Levites. The Intervarsity organization notes how this emphasizes that a foreigner’s life is not an easy one. “His work is often hard and poorly paid, and he may not be able to afford good housing. In addition to any material difficulties he may face, there are emotional challenges: he is an uprooted person, deprived of the comfort of his native language, family, and friends.” Perhaps the present situation is an opportunity for Christians to share in words and deeds the love story of Jesus Christ with people who may be more than ready to hear it.
I cannot help every person who comes to my door needing help. Neither can local churches, local ministries such as the Manna Center and Genesis House, nor the United States. The need is too great. It is not safe to open the door every time there is a knock. Precautions must be in place and common sense activated. Then again, the paralysis of analysis and fear must not be allowed to lead either.
God shows his care for everyone. Christ followers receive God’s love and share it. This is not a sentimentality only kind of love. It is described in Hebrews 12 this way: “the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” It is time. Stand for love; Christ’s love.