The UnCivil Wars
May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am tired.
I’m only 25 years old and I am tired.
A mental exhaustion that wonders how long we will fight petty culture wars because we are afraid of thinking outside of our box. Wars that stem from personal offense by things we are not allowed to be offended by. Not because they are not perhaps offensive or close minded in their own right, but because we are not offended by what really matters. For example, while we are arguing over whether or not we should bake a cake for a gay wedding, LGBTQ youth are committing suicide at alarming rates.
The religious leaders were always trying to catch Jesus in a cultural or theological war. They were always trying to get him to engage and state his stance. Essentially, when they asked the questions they did to trap him they were basically saying, “Whose side are you going to take?” And Jesus never took the bait. Never. Never did he allow what mattered to them to change the way he treated people. Never did he allow the petty arguments, and even some legitimate ones, to stop him from healing and serving. And never did he grab an opportunity to show his moral or intellectual superiority.
We’ve become too attached to our own personal morality that we have let our pride consume how we treat others.
Let me say something that probably won’t be very popular. Love does not mean telling a person that you think they are in the wrong, whatever it may be. You are not saving someone by telling them they are going to hell. We have latched on to this popular idea that sometimes love means saying the hard things, but those hard things are rarely truths to help someone, they are opinions held on to too tightly that we fear if we do not share, we are then responsible for that person’s soul. You are never responsible for another person’s soul. Praise God and hallelujah. It is not your job to get someone into heaven. Christ did that on the cross, never to be done again and if we think that getting a person to repent is somehow saving them from hell, our pride has a reached a level that I’m afraid will take longer than my lifetime to come down from.
We also have fallen prey to the idea that we know what a person needs outside of relationship with them. We have Facebook arguments about people we don’t even know. We pin every Christian idea against every “worldly” idea that we can get our hands on, never thinking that potentially not everything is at war with each other. That maybe God made the world we live in and therefore many ideas and concepts about the earth and humanity may not be in contrast to God.
But over all of this, I think the real problem is that we don’t think about each other enough. We don’t think about how the person we are talking to might perceive what we are saying. We don’t think about what they have gone through in life or how the church has potentially hurt them in the past. We don’t think about how their doubts that were covered over by cliché answers and not properly embraced may cause them to be on edge. And we think of how to defend ourselves more than we think about denying ourselves.
We have let the freedom to have our own personal set of beliefs or morality stop us from thinking outside of ourselves.
I watched the documentary Blackfish recently and it was talking about how a killer whale’s sense of self is composed of their community or family of eight other whales. So they do not think individually, “self” means 8 or so whales together. So when one is taken away it is truly traumatizing because they do not operate independently. Therefore when they are taken away and kept in captivating, such is done at places like Sea World, they become depressed and tend to lash out.
I am amazed that killer whales know more about how to live in a community than we do. We would say it’s a good thing to be able to operate independently and to some extinct, this is true. However, we have become so independent that we have become separated from each other and hostile in our interactions because we can keep people at a distance. We can write comments on any social media without having to see the person’s face, their reaction, the way it may hurt them. We can hold them at a distance in our minds, making all kinds of assumptions about where they are at in life, what “agenda” they are trying to push, what they believe, what is in their heart. All the while excusing ourselves from being affected by each other, all the while staying “true to what we believe”. Staying true to what you believe has come to mean protecting your beliefs from anything that might sound controversial, that might cause you to loosen your grasp a little more, anything that might be rational. Many times the people I hear so strongly claim they want to stay true to what they believe only mean they want to have freedom of speech. They want to be able to say whatever they want to say whenever they want to. This sounds a bit selfish. Yes, as American Christians we have the freedom to say what we want. Doesn’t mean we have to exercise that freedom. You see, that’s what I think is the biggest problem with being a Christian in America. We have freedom and therefore think we must exercise all of it. We back things up by saying it’s our right instead of asking if it looks like Christ.
I personally do not want to get to heaven bragging about how I kept myself untainted from the world. I want to walk up to Jesus with scars, pain, wounds, failure, covered in my own dirt and the dirt of all the people I walked along the road with, fall on my knees and say “I gave it everything I had”.
This may not be you, you may not wish this for yourself and I don’t expect that. All I ask is that we stop creating wars in the name of personal holiness. For while we think we may be fighting against the forces of evil, by “speaking boldly” through Facebook statuses and preaching from the pulpit to a people we are disconnected from, when we allow differences to separate us rather than grow us, when what we believe holds us back or makes us fearful of the people we’re supposed to be loving, we may be unknowingly fighting for the darkness.