Wow, there’s been a fair amount of material for the wider audience to witness our in-fighting as Christians. Twitter has reminded me of that awkward opening scene of Romeo and Juliet where representatives from two sets of families are “biting thumbs” at one another. I wasn’t aware of how serious of a deal it was for someone to bite his/her thumb at another person the first time I read the great Shakespeare play so I thought the whole thing was absurd.
Which is probably the reaction of the multitudes that have to witness at the broken way we grapple and discuss what we might consider significant issues because the back and forth dominates their Facebook feeds. Then, we have to turn around and convince everyone that it is because of love that we treat each other this way.
It reminds me of the absurd scenario of kids listening to their parents scream at each other, and afterwards, the father trying to reassure the kids that he loves their mother and she is curled up in the bathroom, frightened.
No one is buying it.
I think that what may be the thing worth trying to work on is the way the conversation is framed, in general. I’m getting tired of the term culture war. Wars are terrible and nasty. Wars happen because egomaniacs can’t stand staying put and working it out. Wars happen because we push our chairs away from the table and refuse to understand the others in attendance.
The heart of Christianity is a Christ that had the guts to face his enemies and to attempt to reason with them. Christ enacted palpable, subversive discourse that lifted humanity instead of crushing it.
Paul, an early follower of Jesus, launched communities with a conversation piece, a gospel, a royal announcement that God had become king through the saving work of Jesus. All along, though, Paul insisted that the believing community serve and suffer and be comfortable with being the scum of the earth. Misunderstood, probably? Marginalized, perhaps? But, nevertheless, Paul encouraged this community to enact love and to tell a better story than the rest.
Because, after all, the freight of truth is carried in stories.
Here is the story that (appears) to be in the control tower of the some of the Christian Cultural War camp: We are going to demand being in on every conversation about what is going on in the world, all-the-while holding on to a cosmic evacuation plan to escape this world someday.
Yeah, it’s hard to be taken seriously. It’s like watching a teenager who just got his driver’s license and walk into the Porsche dealership asking to drive the fanciest car on the lot, knowing full well that a car purchase will not be the result.
Here’s the deal. The resurrection demands for us to hang in here. God raised Jesus from the dead and sent him back into the cruel world that just crucified him. So, let’s allow that to be our starting point with cultural engagement. Orthodox Christianity might just be the most benevolent, kind, sacrificial, and thoughtful camp in every contemporary discussion.