Something has been growing in me for the last year, like a mold that I cannot get rid of. It appears to me that I have been invited into a discussion time and time again that is designed to frustrate me. Like every human who has lived before me I inherit the ideas, philosophies and doctrines of those who have gone before me. As I consider this discussion I am beginning to realize that the deck is stacked against me.
Over the years I have been passionate about many things - and my passion has led me to read, research, discuss, listen and then express my feelings on a matter. It has not been until recently that I have realized I have joined a game that has no winner. I have joined a culture that is satisfied with choosing sides. It's as if what you believe is more important than the world those beliefs create.
Let me give you a few examples.
Who is right, the conservatives or the liberals? Most of us are not so closed minded as to be totally in the conservative camp or totally in the liberal camp (although some are and I apologize for the "close minded" comment). We recognize a predisposition in our souls to agree with the majority of ideas coming out of a particular worldview. We agree with principles and ideas originating in a place inhabited by thinkers who wish to either preserve traditional, tried and true strategies, or who wish to challenge the status quo and try out new, "cutting edge" strategies. And discussion (better known as arguments) are a series of polarizing ideas in which we draw the battle lines on either side of an issue and then point out the weaknesses on the otherside.
Who is right, the capitalists or the socialists? We all know that freedom and competition are the ingredients that go into invention and excellence. After all that is what makes this country so prosperous. Or is it? Why do more and more people seem to be falling behind and why are specific people groups not thriving in this environment? Maybe the wealth should be shared; with those having so much sharing with those who have so little.
If I throw this meaty bone out into a group of interested parties you can imagine the healthy exchange of ideas that would ensue. We would quickly be forced into one of the two camps by the questions and accusations of the other and before long there would be an argument between two polarized groups.
Who is right the Christians or the non-Christians? We as Christians realize that ours is the revelation of Scripture, ours is the truth of God, ours is the moral authority. So much of what we say and how we package the "Gospel" is a drawing up of battle lines. WE know the correct position on issues like marriage, raising children, sexuality, basic morality, etc. It's our job to get this information out to the world that is so mistaken and so ignorant of what God intended.
Before long we have a polarized discussion between the holy and the un-holy. Is it any wonder that we are known more for our moral and doctrinal positions than for the nature of our character?
We have unknowingly chosen to participate in this argument culture, seeing the world as a serious of choices to agree with one side or the other. I want to suggest to you that Jesus gives us another option.
All human arguments are predicated on the assumption that power is exerted from above. In other words, winning an argument is virtuous and establishes a superior power in our belief while losing an argument is a failure and requires that we discard our inferior belief.
But what if power can be exerted from below, from a place of weakness, without fear of "losing"? Jesus regularly took polarized arguments and inserted a different perspective. It was if he surveyed the battle field and was constantly able to lift the conversation out of us vs. them into a higher realm. Insiders or outsiders, haves and have nots, religious or pagan, Jew or Samaritan, free or slave; Jesus' teaching always trancended these polarized groups and suggested a different way. A way of serving, forgiving, loving and submitting.
What would it look like if we elevated the one we disagree with above our need to be right? What would a community look like that valued connection based on serving from below instead of being right from above.
Here in the Flathead we are coming to the end of a prayer vigil by well-meaning Christians who are praying to end abortion. We see these prayer warriors night and day picketting the abortion clinic, peacefully and with great faithfulness. I personally admire these brothers and sisters in faith. But I wonder, what would happen with those who seek an abortion if there was an unexhaustible supply of Jesus followers who regularly opened their homes to pregnant teenagers and single mothers. If our energies were directed at the people who feel the need to seek an abortion from below - from a place of serving love instead of from above - moral superiority?
Just some stuff we should talk about.