I had two posts already started and intended for publish this week. Something better came along and I felt compelled to push those other posts to the wayside and dive into this instead. The following, therefore, is mostly off the cuff. Please proceed with caution!
During October 2012 Story Church, where I am a member, is running an excellent series on politics. I know what you are thinking, and yes politics and religion is absolutely a combustible mixed topic. Before you click on the back arrow, let me stop you. This series doesn’t go in the direction you may expect it to. No one is handing out flyers on who to vote for, or how to vote on certain issues. Instead the discussion is about going beyond the division of left and right, red and blue, conservative and liberal. It is about unity, and moving beyond platforms and parties.
One of the key points made in this series, so far, has been the simple statement that “as long as there is an US vs THEM, there can be no WE.” Like all good lessons, this one is pure common sense, but is hard to live out. Is it not easier to draw our battle lines and stand shoulder to shoulder with like minded individuals, than it is to associate with those who don’t share our core beliefs? We would rather shout into our echo chamber, and look at all the bobbing heads who agree, than be on the other end of someone expressing an opinion contrary to our own. Where, I would ask, does that get us? It doesn’t take an active imagination or in depth research to figure it out. If you happen to be social media
junkie, er, user like myself, just look on your twitter feed or Facebook timeline and see for yourself. We place our platforms ahead of our fellow man/woman. We value our opinion more than we value our relationships. Friendships are being damaged, relatives are ready to disown each other. Facebook friend and Twitter follow counts are plummeting! This doesn’t have to be the case……
My favorite moment of the series so far, was a point made at the end of the service this past Sunday. We were challenged to make a concerted effort to move beyond these divisions. To buy that person on the other side of the aisle lunch. To go out of your way to have a cup of coffee with that person with the “vote for” bumper sticker that looks the opposite of yours. To make a connection with someone who votes differently than you.
While the context of the discussion has been political divisiveness, I think it can be more broadly applied. What if you stopped thinking that the person whose skin is a different color than yours as “them.” What if you decided to have lunch once a week with that co worker who you know is in a lower tax bracket than you. What if you came to the conclusion that the person who doesn’t share your faith or beliefs is no less worthy of your love.
This doesn’t mean you don’t care about your issue, or that you shouldn’t take part in the political process. We should be so thankful for our right to vote, and we should exercise that right when given the chance. What it does mean is that we become mindful of how our political and personal leanings effect our interactions with others. It means being able to say I love you, even if I don’t agree with you. This concept is the lynchpin of my faith. To love you, even if you don’t vote or think or even pray the way I do. To care about you, even if you don’t care about me.
Pastor Jeremy Copeland has spoken and written (more eloquently than I) on this topic, and is my key source for almost all of this material. I would encourage you to check out his blog (jeremycopeland.com) and the podcast on the Story Church link above.