The top news story on Liberty University's website since Senator Ted Kennedy's death three days ago has been the relationship between the late Dr. Falwell and Senator Kennedy. At first, I was skeptical. I mean honestly...what in the world could Kennedy and Falwell have had in common? Surely it was some sort of spin put on the recent passing of the senator by the university.
It's a good thing that I've been wrong before and know how to handle it. Turns out, Ted Kennedy and Jerry Falwell had been friend for decades, carefully respecting each other despite the fact that they disagreed on what I assume must have been just about everything. You can read that article here.
At first I was a little troubled about the respect Jerry Falwell had for Senator Kennedy. In fact, I went so far in my mind as to think it was a little hypocritical of Falwell. I mean, the Senator stood against just about everything that ultra-conservatives like Falwell hold dear.
But on second thought, I think this is brilliant, and I want to propose that I need to be more like these two men. I am lousy when it comes to respecting my opponents. This isn't just about the Taliban, the Iranian Navy, or the North Korean Air Force (my military opponents). I don't respect the atheists on board, the Catholics on board, and I don't even respect some of the Christians on board.
There, I said it, I'm lousy at respecting others. I have already said that compassion isn't a strong point for me. But what I have also said is that this fact needs to change. What I found great about Jerry Falwell and Senator Kennedy is that they can help light the way for opponents on the spiritual level to respect each other.
Can I respect an atheist? Yes. A Catholic/Mormon/Shintoist? Yes. Why? For no other reason than the fact that they are created in God's image and they may someday come to believe in Him. Why would I want to be the guy who shames my Father by my actions? Oh, this has to change in my heart!
If you have a problem with this as well, then join me as I try to emulate the example of a liberal senator and the founder of a major conservative Christian university. This has to change with us, and we can start now!