I was listening to Danny Silk teach on communication in marriage today, and it struck me the implications for the peacemaking process.
Danny teaches that many of us have a wrong goal of intimacy, believing that it comes from getting the other person to agree with me. We don’t value what we don’t believe or don’t understand. So we try to convince the other person to join our values, so we can feel “one.”
The problem is that every person thinks and feels different things, and longs to be accepted and understood. In a marriage, trying to convince our spouse to always agree with us makes them feel dehumanized. They will probably rebel (creating outer conflict), or give in against their heart desire (creating inner conflict). Both responses move away from intimacy.
So I thought about peacemaking…. How often do we approach the other with the goal of convincing them to agree with us? If they have the same goal, neither of us learns to understand or accept the other and we move farther away from intimacy, strengthening the walls between us.
In marriage, Danny teaches that we need to be committed to understanding, valuing and expressing our own needs, thoughts and feelings, and understanding and valuing our spouse’s expressed needs, thoughts and feelings, creating a safe place to be real, accepting the other, and providing for the other’s needs.
What if we applied this to our relationships across religions? What if our goals included sharing our needs and seeking how to provide for the others’ needs?
The difference is like going to a department store—have you ever gone shopping and met a salesman who tried aggressively to sell you something you weren’t looking for? Did you look for the quickest exit, and avoid him the next time shopping there? Much Christian “evangelism” comes across like this, with about the same result! Compare that to the salesman who takes the time to understand what you’re looking for and gives you helpful input that may add something new to your original thoughts, but helps you get exactly what you wanted or something better. What if interfaith dialogue worked like this?
Both my Christian and my Muslim friends want to be closer to God. Most of them want to know Him more, feel His presence, receive answers to prayer about daily life issues, receive more revelation or wisdom, get their hurting bodies and hearts healed, have more victory over sin, bondages and addictions, and some even want to see God do miracles. Many of them want to see God change the world and be a part of that change.
So I don’t meet Muslims at a theological debate table; I ask them if they would like to pray together with me for those issues we both understand and value. In the process, we can feel with each other the longing for what we’re both missing in our pursuit of God; we can share with each other new ways for seeing those needs met; and we can find a place of intimacy where we treat each other as brothers. The greater the intimacy, the greater the trust; the greater the trust, the more open we are to God using the other to change us.