For one week, rather than watching the news or checking social media first thing each day, read Scripture. If we want our practices to reflect the kingdom of God, the amount of time we meditate on the word of God should outweigh the amount of time we meditate on our news feeds. Read the Bible, or consider books like NT Wright’s Bible for Everyone series, The Confessions of St. Augustine, or Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton.
Pray Scripture daily. Praying Scripture gives us a common language and forms our speech and imagination toward the mind of God. We need moments of spontaneous prayer—between us and God—but also time with other believers (outside of church). The Colossian Forum staff meets at 9 a.m. every work day for prayer. No matter how inconvenient, inefficient, or imperfect, we do it. It orients us in God’s presence and gives us the opportunity to share each other’s concerns, framed by God’s concerns set out by Scripture. It also provides us the daily reminders we need to lead joyful, faithful lives.
If you find yourself in an argument, challenge yourself to repent of your need to win the argument. Instead, do what you can to make sure your interlocutor knows s/he is loved by both God and you, even while you disagree. After all, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Journal how this affected the argument and/or your relationship.
At the end of one day, take 15 minutes to journal the important interactions/conversations of the day. Assess how you showed up in those moments. Were you interested in the other person and compassionate toward them? Did you react to what they said rather than respond? Did you abandon what you believe to make them happy, or did you focus on convincing them that you were right?
Actively challenge your view of those with whom you disagree by asking them questions of understanding. Rather than yielding to the temptation to perceive them as threatening, or alienating or dehumanizing them, seek to understand their perspective. Find out what they love, what they fear, how their love fuels their fear, and how their fears might fuel the anger they feel about an issue. See if any of their loves resonate with you—even if they express those loves differently.
Gather a small group of friends, family, or people from your faith community and imagine together how, if we’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5), conflict itself actually might be an opportunity for spiritual growth. These videos and the related discussion guide may help. Imagine what you look like when you’re stuck in conflict with someone. Does that image reflect God? Think of those you disagree with and imagine what your continued shared life across disagreement would look like. Might such a relationship offer the culture a concrete embodiment of Christ’s victory over sin, alienation, and death?