Saturday, November 14, 2015

Motives and Unity

I have a pretty interesting news feed on Facebook. Interesting as in, it's enough to give a person whiplash when reading. Evidently I know people across a wide spectrum of society and often the opinion posted by one is followed by a second post of exactly the opposite opinion. The juxtaposition often makes me giggle and other members of my family have commented on exactly the same thing. To top it off, I like these people who are posting in my news feed, even though they are very different in their outlook on life.

Having a diverse group of friends and acquaintances also highlights something less than amusing. We Christians (and really this post is directed to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ) are not terribly good at differing opinions. We are so quick to assume less-than-positive motives to our family on the other side of the spectrum.

I understand the difficulties. I am pretty conservative in most of my views, both political and theological. (I hope that doesn't come as a terribly big surprise to anyone.) Because I live in a pretty liberal (both politically and theologically) area, I am used to being the lone conservative. I know how easy it is to feel as though the people to my left are just not taking Scripture seriously enough. I know how easy it is to assume their faith just isn't as important to them as it is to me. I know how easy it is to fall into the holier-than-thou trap. It's not pretty. I'm not proud of it, but it's true.

While this may be the case, I have also had the opposite experience. I have a master's degree from a pretty conservative seminary. A seminary which is even more conservative than I. I found it to be an extremely interesting lesson to suddenly find myself left of center. It was certainly not a place I ever expected to inhabit. And on that more left leaning side, I understood how easy it was to be just a little more intellectually superior than my fellow student. If they really thought about what they were saying, surely they would see the illogic of their position. Come on, critical thinking, people. Yes, it is just as ugly here on the other side.

I'm not proud of my not-so-humble reactions to those around me, and it is something I fight down all the time. I'm also pretty sure I'm not the only one. We humans are great at putting ourselves, our faith, our intellect up there at the top of the heap. We are not so good at being humble. We are really not good at the whole unity of the body-thing that Scripture asks of us.

To do this we have to take ourselves down a notch. We have to assume the best motives in our fellow believers.. whether we agree with them or not. And this, more than anything is what I've realized as I move between the different ends of the spectrum. I know these people. I know they care. I know they love Jesus. I know they are doing the best they can. We may be at different places, but it is not my job to force them onto my path. It is my job to love and support them. God can take care of the rest.

Now, does this mean we don't discuss important things? No. Does this mean we all have to agree? No. Of course it doesn't mean these things. It does mean that we assume the best from each other. It means that even if we think someone else is wrong about something that we still love and want the best for that person. It means we don't belittle them or treat them unkindly. It means we love them.

And the red cups I promised you yesterday? Well, isn't this a perfect example of what I'm talking about? In my extremely diverse Facebook feed, I saw no initial outrage over those silly red cups. (And really, trust me when I say that if a small faction was outraged, I probably would have seen something. My feed is just that crazy.) The first I saw was the outrage over the "outrage." So quick were people to assume that their fellow Christians (the intellectually bankrupt ones) were doing something stupid again, that it didn't take much to believe it. Immediately following was the outrage over the outrage over the "outrage." (You still with me?) It's hardly the outrageous love we are called to show to others. And if we can't even show that level of outrageous love to our fellow believers, then how in the world can we ever expect to show it to the world?

If you have a problem with someone, take it to them personally. Work it out. Discuss it. But assume the best motives. We are called to be different. We are called to be known by our love... to each other and to the world.

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