"For now we see as if through a flawed pane of glass..." (I Corinthians 13:12)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Let's You and Him Fight

Between me and any other human there are infinitely more similarities than differences.

That’s a bold statement, especially in a culture that has become obsessed with eliminating differences—in a culture that is persuaded that differences and disagreements are bad and assumes that conformity is good (as long as I am the standard to which everyone must conform)—in a culture that does not recognize or accept the enrichment that emerges out of diversity—in a culture in which defenders of differing ideologies demonize each other.

Nevertheless, I maintain that we agree much more than we disagree—about almost everything.

We all agree that justice is better than injustice.

We all agree that good is better than evil.

We all agree that right is better than wrong.

But we don’t always agree on the definitions of justice, good and right.

Christians generally agree on the reality of God, and agree that God is the Creator of the Universe, the Redeemer of all that is broken in creation, and the Sustainer of all that is eternal. If we humans could leave it there and simply stand in awe before that reality and respond in adoration and praise and in commitment to live in harmony with the redemptive, sustaining work of God in creation, life would be as God intended life to be.

Moreover, Christians generally agree that Jesus of Nazareth completely manifested the redemptive work of God.

But (and you can pick almost any other point in Christian history as a starting point), within the first generation of Christianity somebody said, “This is specifically how God accomplished redemption through Jesus, and you must agree with my assessment or you’re wrong.” And immediately there was established the dichotomy of orthodoxy vs. heresy.

The need to identify heresy is an act of insecurity, and manifests a need to be in control of our eternal destiny. It's the fruit of the tree of which, when we eat it, we will know the difference between good and evil (Genesis 3:1-5). When we know what we have to do, then we won't have to trust some mysterious creator deity. If we obey the rules, that deity will be obligated to favor us in our eternal destiny.

Orthodoxy replaced the pure response of awe and adoration and praise and shifted the focus from the awesomeness of God to human works; and no matter how high we fly the grace flag, the message we send with our lives is "you've gotta' jump through my hoops or you're out". The focus shifted from relating to God to being right and demonizing those who don't affirm my perception of right. And we've been fighting ever since.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1). That should have been enough. But somewhere along the way somebody decided to limit the possible ways God could have accomplished that task, and orthodoxy and heresy were created: “There’s only one way God could have done it, and you agree with me or you’re out.”

So to this day we square off and fight over “creationism” vs “intelligent design” vs “evolution”, and God gets shoved into a corner and essentially forgotten in the preoccupation with being “right.”

And in the process of eliminating disagreements, the larger arena of our agreements, upon which we could work together collaboratively to fulfill our divine calling to build a more just, good and “right” world (“…on earth as it is in heaven…”), gets lost in the shuffle. And God is neither adored nor praised—nor impressed.

"And I will show you a still more excellent way.  If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (I Corinthians 12:31-13:1).

That’s how I see it through the flawed glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,


Jim