As I increasingly find myself marching to the beat of a different drummer than those around me, I’m trying to learn how to keep step with the church. I don’t worry too much about society in general; I don’t mind not fitting in there. But I need to know how to love and serve in a church (broad sense, not local church) where many see things differently than I.
It’s funny. When you’re younger, it almost seems appropriate to feel out of step. You’re a rebellious youth, with new vision and a spirit of restoration. You’re calling the church back to what it should be.
As it gets older, if you’re not in step, then you’re holding the church back. You’re not following the Spirit. You’re clinging to tradition.
For my money, the two situations are virtually identical. The question is how to find the grace to deal with the situation.
Nobody holds a position because they believe it to be wrong. We think we’re right, and therefore think the other person is wrong.
But we should remind ourselves on a regular basis: sometimes the other guy is right.
So before we vilify, before we question motives, before we ridicule, we’d do well to stop and say to ourself, “They could be right.”
There was an interesting story on NPR about vegans and vegetarians. The title was “Do Vegetarians And Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?” I found the conclusion of the story especially intriguing:
It’s clear to me that Friedrich and Patrick-Goudreau believe not that they are better people than meat-eaters, but instead that their dietary practices are better for animals, and for our world as a whole, than the habits of meat-eaters. Why do many people so readily confuse these two things?
That made me think about some of the discussions I’ve had over the last few years. There are times when I’ve found it hard to express the idea that I believe a certain way of living and acting is better, yet I don’t think that I’m better than those that choose differently. Some examples:
- I have come to believe that Christians should not participate in wars. Yet I remain proud of some I know that have chosen a different path, not because of what they did, but because of their reasons for doing so.
- I think that involvement in politics dilutes our effectiveness in this world, yet I have good friends who hold office and others who are extremely active in their respective parties. Again, I don’t agree with their choice, but I don’t question their motives.
- I have come to believe that patriotism and nationalism are threats to spirituality, yet I know Christians that I greatly admire who believe just the opposite.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. We hold to our convictions, firmly believing that we are right. Yet we can do so without judging others and without believing that our stance somehow makes us better than others. I will try to convince others of my position and hope they will try to convince me of theirs. That’s how we grow as Christians. Yet it must always be done with an air of acceptance and respect.
Anybody up for a good steak?