I am not God. An obvious statement. (I'm full of those lately- maybe the kids have siphoned off the brain cells that are capable of more complex thoughts.) But I have many opinions and beliefs, ranging from how often to bathe a child (once/week...who else is with me?), to the deeper issues of faith in God and how to follow Him. We all have ways that we do things, or ideas that we hold onto- we can't possibly live in this world free of beliefs because whether we like it or not, each of our actions is rooted in some belief or impulse about ourselves and the world around us. And since we all have our own outlooks and experiences in life, we are undoubtedly going to run into someone, sooner or later, who disagrees with us. You can try to value and support everyone's opinions and ideas but eventually you will run into tension.
As a blogger, I live in this tension frequently. I sometimes am the most passionate when I write in protest of ideas that I feel are unhealthy, misguided, or narrow-minded. Conversely, people have commented or approached me after reading my blogs with disagreements of their own- they'll explain that something I've written seemed skewed, misinformed, inflexible, or flat out wrong. My reaction to comments like these is almost always the same- I get a little defensive, a little "how-dare-you-criticize-me", a little annoyed and arrogant. See there's this part of me that actually believes that everything that I believe, every opinion I hold, is right. And that's the part of me that needs to be reminded that I am not God.
Often people, perhaps especially Christians, get into arguments or disagreements and become so. incredibly. inflexible. Granted, there are some areas of disagreement that seem fundamental, and others that seem gray. But frequently I notice that we spend our time and energy finding all the people who don't agree with us and trying to systematically bend them to see what we see, or shame or exclude them if they don't. Or worse, if someone disagrees with us on even one significant issue, we assume that we have to write them off entirely. We label their thinking as "dangerous" or "compromised" and feel that if we consent to even part of their philosophy, we may as well go off the deep end with them. There are books, whether fiction or non, that we flatly refuse to read at all in our outrage of what we feel to be incorrect...I can think of books ranging from Rob Bell's "Love Wins" to the "Q'uran", from Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" to William P. Young's "The Shack"...and obviously that is a quite a small selection.
Whether we're dealing with thoughts of people we know, or in books that we read, if we can't believe that we might at least be able to grow from hearing the perspective of someone else, then we have a serious problem- and will remain stagnant. I can't say that I necessarily believe the same things now as even three years ago...what I believe is constantly being shaped and challenged by the thoughts of those around me. I could choose to listen only to people who think just like me...but my world would become awfully small. And in time I would find that my stubbornness of thought would be my own downfall- keeping me from experiencing the fullness of what God intended.
My point is this...to refuse to listen to other people's thoughts is to assume that all our thoughts are right- that they need no tweaking whatsoever. If we take that to it's logical conclusion- that means we think we know as much as God- which would make us His equals- which would make us heretics- which would mean we should disagree with ourselves. Oh boy.