A Lesson in Mutuality
Abigail Reed serves with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!
Proverbs 16: 16
During my interview to become a Global Mission Intern, I was given the following scenario: Imagine you are at your placement and notice you are working with partners who share different views than yourself. How would you respond? Keep in mind you are representing both the UCC and Disciples of Christ.
At that moment, I thought I knew the correct answer. It was simple; I would be open-minded and take into account all points being made before passing judgment. However, this past week I was reminded that initial understanding is always easier in theory than practice. You may be wondering how I did respond. And to be honest, I shut down for a few days. I began to feel like an outsider in a place where I was just starting to feel the most connected, simply because my daily faith practices and theological views were different from those around me.
I think it’s easy for us to shut down when we are faced with challenges in life, however, it’s how we bounce back from them that matters the most. This is something I realized from the experience. Once I opened back up, my faith community both near and far was able to help me process the questions I had. One of those people said to me, “If God is love, then God is love. And that’s all that matters to me.” Before hearing this, I had spent countless hours asking myself, “How can we all believe in the same God, but have such differing views?” This simple statement reminded me that I may not be right about things, many things in fact, but I can still acknowledge what value I personally know best; God is love.
One of Global Ministries’ core values is mutuality: “sharing in the visions of partners instead of trying to guide them, and listening instead of lecturing.” I do not have all the answers, and I am grateful for this opportunity of learning more about interfaith practices while being surrounded by people who are able to offer new views and perspectives.
I want to leave you all with a question posed by Beth Allison Barr in her book The Making of Biblical Womanhood that has been helpful to me in this time of questioning and spiritual growth, “What if I am wrong about my conclusions? Am I willing to reconsider the evidence?” This question works within the current social, political, and religious climates of our daily lives. When we’re faced with differing views, let’s take a step back to practice understanding. Open our hearts and minds to new knowledge. Be humble. Do as Valarie Kaur suggests in her book See No Stranger. Rather than associate people as others when it comes to views of ideology and cultural practices, let’s say in our minds, “You are a part of me I do not yet know.”
 “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
Abigail Reed serves with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK). Her appointment is made possible by gifts to the Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and Week of Compassion and your special gifts.