Monday, January 30, 2017
This happens in different ways, and we will all work out how we should act differently. I think that's fine. But sitting by the sidelines, flicking on the news and switching to an old episode of Friends instead is not an option.
We need to be friends with people who hold different opinions to us - we need to care for them and see the humanity in those who disagree. We need to listen and talk and try to hold our own prejudices at bay just long enough so that a conversation might be slightly more civilised than a shouting match.
When generosity and kindness have left the room, the only thing to do is to invite them back in. Someone has to. It might as well be us.
This means we lose arguments in order to win people. People always matter more.
And yet, there comes a moment when the world goes so mad that amongst all of this (which always, always applies) there come 'line in the sand' moments. Moments which define a time. Moments which we realise when they are happening, and which we will all look back on and for which we will all have to answer - what did you do then?
I hit such a personal moment a few years back when I realised that I had totally accepted for most of my life that I was a second-class human being because I was gay. Seeing that I had genuinely believed and lived this out clearly helped me change - and helped me as I worked through my beliefs as a Christian, and my understanding of the Scriptures. (Which, of course, have no room at all for such an idea. Those of you who don't like St Paul need to sort yourselves out; we have a lot to thank him for.) This drives me passionately, and when I see anyone treating anyone else as if they are somehow 'less', I will always side with the powerless party. Even if I don't like their cause.
Christ is the light that lightens every person; we are all made in God's image; these are foundational and precious truths. People are people.
Western Society is hitting a profound moment right now because powerful people are taking their moment to soft-pedal the equal humanity of all. They do it for all sorts of plausible reasons. Our safety, our economic well-being, our ability to define ourselves; but the message is the same. We are better; they are less; let's assert ourselves!
It's ungodly, it's unChristian, it's unBiblical, and it's inhumane. It's dehumanising.
So - what are we doing in the midst of these days? Flicking from the news to old episodes of 'Friends'? ("Seriously - they were on a break!")
Or talking to folk we disagree with? Listening to opinions we find hard, but they come from real people, so let's understand that and give all people the right to be people. All people. The ones we like and the ones we don't. And let's make sure that in winning this battle for the right for people to be people we don't simply adopt methods we would rail against in others; so no shouting down, no belittling.
Truth must out. Honesty must be our language. Generosity and kindness are our friends; we bring them into every room.
Those of us who are Christians know we follow a Lord who raises folk up, he doesn't grind them into the ground. For any reason. And we are his followers, with the responsibility to work as he does. No other way is acceptable.
For his command is really simple. Jesus says: "Love God. Love your neighbour. Oh, and by the way, love your enemy too. Any questions?"