Friday, January 17, 2014

Drawing Lines

I mentioned a while ago, about an actor who had gotten in trouble for some things he said. There is still a lot of noise going on about this incident. (And I am a little concerned about posting this, because I might get viewed as practicing what I am writing about … as in “practice what you preach.”)

I was looking at a blog aggregator, trying to see if there was a writer I would like to check out. It was a list of popular Christian bloggers and recent posts they had written. And one writer had a post about this particular person and incident. So, I took a peek.

The post was not so much a discussion of the incident, as it was a discussion about the reaction of a large part of the “Christian community.” These people felt the actor was being treated unfairly. The rationale goes like:

“Many others espouse an opinion that is unpopular, and it does not create such big waves. This person espouses an unpopular view, and an uproar ensues, because his view is based on his allegiance to Jesus, and what he believes pleases him.”

The writer’s point was (1) the actor did not understand nor characterize the people he was talking about in a way that Jesus would have talked about; and (2) since the “Christian community” seemed to be defending his actions, then the writer felt alienated from (not part of) the “Christian community.”

Moreover, the writer posted the thoughts of several other writers who said similar things. “Because they defended what this person did, I don’t feel like I am part of the Christian community, because …”

Now, I confess I did not read what these people were saying very closely. Mostly, it was because of the emotional impression I was getting. The feeling I got was that there was an us/them mind-set being created. (And, of course, I could be totally wrong about what went on these people’s hearts.)

Christians seem to be very good at drawing us/them lines. Protestants/Catholics. Evangelicals/Pentecostal-Charismatic/Mainline. Conservative/Liberal. Some of the line-drawing involves “Because you don’t believe/do this (or do believe/do this) you’re not really a follower of Jesus, or a member of his family. You have not really made Jesus your first allegiance.”

My concern here is the line-drawing. Some line-drawing is inevitable. Even Jesus drew some lines. Of course, his earnest desire was that everyone would be on his side of the line. But I don’t think people realize the seriousness God gives this. Most people realize that Jesus said that one of the ways people will know who the Jesus-followers are is that they have a genuine love for one another. What is less known is that Jesus said the unity of his family demonstrates that God truly sent Jesus. Francis Schaeffer, 30 years ago, took this one step further. He said when Jesus said this, he almost gave permission to people, who had no allegiance to him, to conclude that if there is no unity among Jesus’ family, then Jesus’ claims about his mission, about his work, and about God’s purposes are a pack of lies. Suddenly, drawing lines takes on a whole new significance.

There are going to be disagreements. Every family, every couple, has them. But we need to find a way to disagree, but not draw lines. We need to find a way where there is only an “us”.

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