2005-08-15

Exactly What I was Thinking


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This piece by Brian McLaren, over at Sojourners talks about being a bridge between opposites in a polarized society. It could just as easily be Brian's little epiphany, as it elicited a big, "Yes! That's what I've been trying to say for some time now," as I read.

McLaren confesses to feeling inadequate for the subject, yet does a great job of exploring this territory and capturing the angst that comes from trying to bridge a chasm the seems to continue to grow wider. I thoroughly enjoyed the piece and appreciate him showing his heart the way he did. I'd have told him as much, but Sojo didn't provide an e-mail link, nor did his church's site.

McLaren discusses Paul's "all things to all people passage."
"[Paul] was called to enter various cultures - Jewish cultures, Gentile cultures - and invite people to be reconciled to God and to one another. Of course, nobody can be everything to everybody at the same time, but you can, Paul implied, cross the bridge on the right side and enter a person’s world without judgment, and then go to the left side of the bridge and enter that person’s world without judgment as well." (emphasis added)


And that's the metamorphosis that's been going on in me for a while now. It's not that I've abandoned politics, or changed my point of view. Let me be clear - I have not. What I have realized is that when politics leads me to disrespect others, to stop hearing and processing what I take in, and to pour time and energy into fighting inconsequential fights, then my priorities have gotten out of line.

Certainly Christ leaves room for me to explore and have opinions. But that doesn't change the fact that I should be about God's work. And in following the example of His son, I believe that except in rare cases, I'm called to work to understand and engage others.

In reading throught the gospels I am struck by how Christ never allowed the Pharisees and other Religious Leaders of His day to side-track Him. These guys were relentless in trying to trip Him up. Whereas we would carry on the fight for days while waiting for the next issue, Christ had this way of quickly and clearly setting things straight and continuing about His work. He never lost sight of what was important, and never let the discussion stray into pettiness.

My favorite of McLaren's new ways of communication is: "We must stop answering questions that are framed badly." I believe that this is key. Slanted, yield-nothing questions are what generate the teaser "new survey results" which fuel endless, and pointless debate. But what they also do is allow the media to frame the discussion, and in so doing, color the participants in the discussion.

In today's political climate, we Christians, whether we like it or not, are being held up as major players in the game. And for those of us who are trying in earnest to follow God first, foremost and without being pulled off course by the prevailing winds of the day's rhetoric, I don't find that we're being painted accurately, nor positively, nor in a way that is helpful to our mission of being God's hands, feet and love in our world.

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