Trump vs. BLM Showdown: What Can Christians Learn?

You don’t win many people to your side by telling them they’re wrong and you’re right.

You won’t win many to the pro-life cause by calling those who disagree with you “baby killers.” Crisis pregnancy centers that come alongside women with unplanned and often unwanted pregnancies are far more persuasive.

The same goes for politics. I don’t know any Republican or Democrat who changed party loyalties due to being berated by a co-worker. But when political parties address issues that concern us, we are open to listen.

Arthur Brooks writes about an unlikely meeting of social and political foes. On September 16, 2017, a group of President Trump’s supporters squared off on the National Mall with Black Lives Matter of Greater New York (BLMNY). There was the usual shouting of slogans promoting their cause and denouncing the other side, but then something unusual and instructive happened.

Tommy Gunn, the organizer of the pro-Trump rally, invited Hawk Newsome, the leader of the counter demonstrators, on stage to address the rally for two minutes.

If you had the chance to address a group of people you strongly disagreed with, what would you say? Hawk Newsome is rightly passionate about black lives. What would he say to his ideological opponents?

Mr. Newsome accepted the invitation and addressed the hostile crowd with evident sincerity. “I am an American,” he said. “And the beauty of America is that when you see something broke in your country, you can mobilize to fix it.”

When someone in the crowd shouted, “All lives matter!” Mr. Newsome responded: “You’re right, my brother, you’re right. You are so right. All lives matter, right? But when a black life is lost, we get no justice. That is why we say black lives matter. If we really want to make America great, we do it together.”

Tommy Gunn and Hawk Newsome teach us something very valuable. Mr. Gunn teaches us to listen to others no matter how strong our disagreements. Gunn had the stage and the microphone and, on that day at least, the power. But he voluntarily surrendered his power when he offered Mr. Newsome the chance to speak.

Given this opportunity, Mr. Newsome used the platform winsomely. Instead of telling the President’s supporters how wrong they were, he affirmed their position (“You’re right, my brother, you’re right. You are so right. All lives matter, right?”), explained his position (“But when a black life is lost, we get no justice. That is why we say black lives matter”), and called for cooperation (“If we really want to make America great, we do it together”).

The video shows that the once hostile crowd cheered for Mr. Newsome and afterwards some even wanted pictures with him. When his opponents got to know him, even though it was only for 2 minutes, they found him hard to hate.

Tommy Gunn and Hawk Newsome built bridges not walls. What can Christians learn from this?

No One Is Argued Into A Relationship With God.

When Christians love, serve, and sacrifice for others, Jesus is far more attractive than when we fight, argue, and protest those who disagree with us.

Madeline L’Engle: We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.

Consider the story of Kevin Palau, one of several pastors in the very progressive city of Portland, who approached the openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, asking how the churches could best serve the city, with no strings attached.

Since that 2007 meeting, Christians have joined their fellow citizens to make a real difference in hunger, homelessness, healthcare, the environment, and public schools. Along the way they have received praise from the mayor for their efforts and made the gospel attractive to those who might never have given much thought about Jesus (Titus 2:10).

There’s an old saying that before people care what you know, they want to know that you care. Our care and concern can be shown on a corporate level (ForColumbia and The Crossing’s partnerships with Love INC, Lange Middle School, COR, In2ACTION, and True/False to name a few) and on a personal level (helping others at your office, inviting people into your home to share a meal, being an encourager who sees the best in others, volunteering your time at your kid’s school, etc.).

Finding Common Ground

When Hawk Newsome had the chance to speak, instead of focusing on all the disagreements he had with his audience, he found common ground with them. When one person shouted, “All lives matter,” many in BLMNY could have taken that as minimizing the fear and anger felt by so many African Americans. But Newsome acknowledged that all lives do matter and that’s why black lives matter.

Then he doubled down on his “Common Ground” strategy by referring to the main slogan of the Trump campaign: Make America Great Again. Mr. Newsome said, “If we really want to make America great, we do it together.” He was appealing to the common desire to live in a great country but saying that we will only get there when we become allies not enemies.

We have a lot in common with our non-Christian friends and neighbors ranging from wanting a good job that pays a living wage to desiring your kids go to quality schools. Christian or not, every person has hopes, fears, concerns, and longings.

What if, instead of saying to our non-Christian friends, “You and I are really different because I believe in Jesus and you don’t,” we said, “You and I share a lot in common and I think Jesus just might be the one that we are both looking for?” Imagine your relationships changing from face-to-face lectures to walking through life together side by side.

Doesn’t that sound like the kind of outreach that you want to be involved in—respecting people, rejecting unnecessarily combative language, building relationships, and looking for common ground? Doesn’t that sound like Jesus?

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