This morning I attended our “Under Construction Men’s Community Group” meeting. One of the group members had arranged for a Catholic priest to come and talk with us about Catholicism and we had opportunities to ask questions about some of the things we didn’t understand about the Catholic faith, or maybe misconceptions we held. It was a fascinating discussion, and I’m grateful to Father Aaron Foshee for coming to talk to us.
One of the big things I took away from that discussion was how often we make assumptions about other people or other groups without ever taking time to talk to them. I have to admit I assumed I knew what Catholics believed about some things like communion, confession, and the Church. I had made up in my own mind why they were wrong and I was right.
After hearing Father Foshee talk about some of these subjects I came to realize many of my assumptions were only half true or weren’t true at all! In fact, his explanations for things made a lot of sense to me and changed some of my perceptions. It’s not that I am now Catholic and believe all the same things as Father Foshee. As Methodists and Catholics there are still things we would disagree about theologically, but I now have a better understanding of where he and other Catholics are coming from and have a greater respect for their faith.
I think that’s what happens when we take time to have open dialogue for the purpose of learning. Nobody was there to try to prove the other wrong. He wasn’t trying to convert us to Catholicism and we weren’t trying to convert him to Methodism. We were just there to learn from one another as we all seek to live out God’s purpose for our lives.
We live in a world that spends so much energy trying to separate people into “us” vs. “them”. Yet, when we come together to talk to each other we might find that many of those assumptions we had about “them” simply aren’t true. I want to encourage you today to take time to talk to one of “them” just for the purpose of learning – not to try to make “them” one of “us”. Our world could use a little more friendly, open dialogue today. After all, it is Casual Friday.