Broad strokes

As an artist, I struggle to capture a subject with broad strokes. Representational art at least in the range of my ability requires smaller brushes to capture detail. There are exceptions to this—works of art that lean more toward the contemporary or more abstract pieces can be executed with larger brushes. Granted, experts in their craft can do anything. I have a way to go to reach that level. My point in all this is that broad strokes, at least for me, often miss the details. And details can make all the difference.

And yet, in our culture, we are leaning more into the use of painting others in wide swaths. We place folks in a broad category whether it be political, faith, or something else and assign them characteristics that we have already predetermined go with a person in that category. When we do that, we’ve stopped listening, because listening is the only way we find out the details. We’ve thrown away our small brushes.

It hurts my heart when I see or hear this done. Recently, I heard someone use a broad-brush stroke referring to others with a differing view as God-less. I had a friend who fit the category referred to, and knew they were not God-less, in fact they were God-full. Someone who has a differing view may be wrong (or not) in their thinking, but it doesn’t mean they are apart from God. I may have seen things differently than the person referenced but their hearts were after God.

Rather than jettisoning others because of wide categories and broad strokes, let’s look and listen for the details that may bring us together. You may be saying, well, if they think “x, y, or z” then I don’t want to hear anything else they have to say. Really? We have to ask ourselves what would the Biblical response be? If we truly see these folks apart from God, then we have an even greater burden to build a bridge. Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Corinthians 9:22).

I understand this is not easy. It’s less trouble to just lump folks into categories and try to get away from them because we don’t want to hear differing views.

But please, let’s get rid of those big brushes. Let’s take out the smaller ones that can capture the fine points that may change everything. I’m here painting alongside you, friend!


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