On paper, it looks like we have an agreement. Our conversation was lively and candid. The obvious points were raised, discussed, and, at the appropriate moments, heads for nodding in agreement. There were several present, so it is unlikely that any will deny the facts.
Consensus agreements are tricky events. There is a natural tendency to enjoy the sense of victory when everyone gets to the same page. Sometimes, everything moves. It is as if we were a jury considers the fate of a man, when “they quickly agreed on Paul’s innocence, saying, ‘There’s nothing in this man deserving prison, let alone death.’” (Acts 26.31) On other occasions, everything grinds slowly in methodical deliberation.
No matter what happen on paper, I find that it is not enough. Yes, the minutes of our meeting will record that we agreed on an action plan. Yes, everyone freely committed him/herself. The “but” comes when one visualizes the stories told in body language. On this particular day it was a mixture of curiosity, wonder, conviction, and several emotions I cannot quite categorize.
I find myself circling back to a question that will not disappear. Do I want their agreement? If so, what do I want?
I see the question of agreement to be much broader than just this event. How deeply do I want others to agree with my beliefs and convictions? If I want their conviction, am I willing to consider all the ways they answer me? Will I just listen to the explicit? Will I go beyond to the visual? What about the subtle hints that I can feel but cannot quite identify?
I am reminded that God invites me to believe. Divinity is not particularly concerned about my words and rhetoric. Divinity is looking to my heart and actions. What am I saying with each step? What am I doing in regards to those around me? The story I tell with my body in the present is the truth. If I want a consensus, words will never be enough. The answer is found in what happens next.