By: Tyler Gruthusen | Contributor
I originally intended for this article to showcase my very strong opinions about Excalibur. However, after many conversations with professors, friends and classmates, I have decided against it. Instead, I will begin with a verse:
James 1:19, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."
Since the first issue of Excalibur, there has been a lot of tension, distress, confusion and conversation within our community. I have personally felt all of those emotions and have had plenty of conversations. I also have been slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to become angry. As a result, I have demonized professors and students, adopted a lot of rumor into my perception of this situation and contributed to the lack of unity in our community at Taylor. I want to write this article to correct my response and to hopefully encourage a right response in us as Taylor students and faculty.
Let's go back to that verse, and I'm going to focus on the word "listen" because I believe that both "sides" of this issue would say that the other is not listening well enough. The word "listen" comes from the word akouo, which means "to hear." However, it also can be defined as "to understand, to consider what has been said, to perceive the sense of what is said" (from the "Strong's Concordance"). To hear and to consider what has been said are quite different, and I believe James 1:19 is meant to convey the latter: an active search to understand what is being conveyed by the speaker. If so, what does this mean? Is it really our responsibility as believers to actively search for the original intentions and purposes of all of the speakers in our lives, especially those of other believers? What about when we are hurt or angered by what is said by those speakers? Can we justify giving up the search for their intentions if we are hurt?
I will answer that question with another verse, Ephesians 4:3 (NLT): "Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together in peace."
Make every effort. I don't believe the verse mentions our hurt or anger or frustration. Does this mean that our pain is not justified? Not necessarily. But it does mean that, no matter the situation, make every effort. So now what does this mean? It means exactly what is says: do everything in your power as a believer to unite each other in love and peace. Our response to hurt should be to go to those who have hurt us with the hope that we might understand (Matthew 18:15). Perhaps you go to those you are angry with and find even more reason to be angry. Then be angry. But also leave that person in the love and peace of the Holy Spirit. Just as joy does not necessarily mean happiness, so peace does not necessarily mean painlessness.
Reconciliation is hard. My minority brothers and sisters know this way more than I do. So this is easier said than done. But it is essential to unity.
To finish this article off, I will briefly mention how I recently met with Associate Professor of Biblical Studies Richard Smith, a professor behind Excalibur. I went into our conversation frustrated, hoping to fuel the fire. I left encouraged and more aware. I very much enjoyed our conversation and I respect him a lot more as a result.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, meet with those you feel hurt or frustrated with. Be quick to understand.