We have the entire series of Beginner Books, and now my children have outgrown them. So I plan to take my favorite book from each and discuss them. Today’s is A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock and Fritz Siebel.
In this book, a boy sees a fly go by in fear! So he asks the fly, who tells him something is chasing him. The boy asks that animal, and the animal is shocked that someone assumed they had bad intentions. The animal then explains they are running because they are being chased. So the boy asked the third animal, and this continues. It wasn’t until the boy stopped them all and asked, “Why are you chasing . . . .?” They then realized no one was out to get them; an animal was looking for help.
This book shows the fear we can have when we don’t understand the motivations of another. One of my favorite paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is about rash judgment. Paragraph 2478 states,
To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way; Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it.
There are social issues that are highly debated. There tend to be two major viewpoints. Each viewpoint speaks negatively of the other. For instance, pro-lifers “want to control woman’s bodies.” It is as if the motivation to be pro-life is about control and power over women. Would extreme pro-life laws “control” women? Yes, but all laws in society control the actions and choices of people.
Is this their motivation? Suppose you asked someone why they are pro-life. The answers will show that they care for women physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They believe abortions are harmful to women in these ways. They also believe in the dignity and rights of all life, including the fetus’.
The flip side is also true – if you ask why someone is pro-choice, their motivations are to care for women. Some even argue abortion is good for the fetus, as in cases of extreme mental/physical disabilities or an impoverished situation.
Another example is transgender children. One side accuses the other of being “transphobic.” The other accuses child abuse. Again, if you ask each side why, the answers are motivated by compassion, love, and caring for other people.
We must step back and realize that both sides are driven by a desire to love one another. I believe this to be true in most cases; even though I recognize that there are extreme people in this world driven by hate, I do not think they are the majority.
Each side of these issues wants the best for another – they want to love their neighbor.
Then why are our conclusions so different?
Many years ago, my brother had an apologetic blog, and he wrote about abortion using arguments from a religious point of view. I commented, saying I didn’t think this was a good strategy. If God is a logical, rational being who created nature, then we should argue using logic, reason, and nature. He answered that even if we don’t have to, we should. I disagreed with him then, but I agree now.
The bible tells us that God is love:
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.
Therefore, for any of us to love, we need to know God. We must first love God to love others (Mt 22:36-39).
The resurrected Jesus tells His apostles their mission – to make disciples.
Mt 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
It is not my duty as a Christian to change your mind on issues, but I must preach about Jesus. Suppose I see you as a person with beliefs motivated by a desire to love your neighbor, which is a fundamental desire given to you by God. In that case, I might be willing to have a discussion. On the other hand, if I only see you as a child killer or abuser, I might stay away.
We need the Holy Spirit to achieve this mission. At Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and could speak in tongues so that all might hear and understand their message (Acts 2: 4-8). Peter addresses the crowd (Acts 2:14), which converted their hearts, and they ask, “What shall we do?” (2:37). Peter answers:
Acts 2:38-42 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him. . . Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
That day, they baptized 3,000 people (Acts 2:41). This was the Holy Spirit acting in the Apostles, and we have the same Holy Spirit working in us.
Teach your children to ask the Holy Spirit for these gifts:
- To first understand the motivation of others
- To help us see them as a child of God moved by the God-given desire to love
- Give us the right words to say (speak in tongues)
- Finally, to open the ears and hearts of all those who listen to us