I'm not a communications expert, but it's a subject I've given some thought over the years. I used to preach every week, blog, tweet, meet with students, and do all the regular sorts of communicating most humans do. One dimension of communication I've wrestled with more than others is how to talk to people you don't agree with, perhaps dislike, or even consider an ideological enemy. It's also something we seem to be particularly bad at in our Internet age. I don't need to describe this in detail. We've all seen one too many Facebook updates blow up into a rehash of the schisms and Crusades to doubt this is a problem. It is election season, after all.
And while there are a number of reasons this should not be so, one of the most important is Jesus’s command to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those to whom we're opposed. If we can't do that with others within household of God, how are we supposed to do it with those outside?
So how can we love, honor, and treat with Christian dignity those with whom we disagree? How can you love someone when they're forcibly set against you, while still contending for a truth of significant moral and personal interest?
Sometimes I wonder if we hear this overwhelming challenge to love in its most difficult, highest form, causing us to slump over in defeat since it seems all too impossible. But what if there were an easier first step? What if we could begin with something as simple as small talk?