Well, this isn’t a fun piece to write. It’s really more of a confession. But I think it’s worth some time and attention for all of us to consider.
David was traveling this week, and called home as I was winding down for the evening. After debriefing from the day, I casually mentioned that I wished he had been with me to watch the news. This is where it gets, well, not pretty. If you like what you know of me, you may want to stop reading here.
I had been watching CNN report on a certain preacher from a certain state who had made certain offensive comments regarding certain groups. A woman from the congregation had been interviewed in response to the recent press that her church had received. Regardless of where you land on the specific issues discussed, I’m not sure that anyone could argue that she was thoughtful or logical in her responses. Rather, she reinforced the very stereotype that many folks hold of Christians living in Bible Belt. I was incredulous. I wanted someone to share in my astonishment – in a dark sort of way. But I couldn’t stay there for long. An uneasiness crept up on me like the early stages of poison ivy. One dot. Then two. Eventually, I couldn’t ignore my discomfort with my own disposition.
“God speaks to us about ourselves, about what he wants us to do and what he wants us to become… A face comes toward us down the street. Do we raise our eyes or do we keep them lowered, passing by in silence? Somebody says something about someone else, and what he says happens to be not only cruel but also funny; and everybody laughs. Do we laugh too, or do we speak the truth? When a friend has hurt us, do we take pleasure in hating him, because hate has its pleasures as well as love, or do we try to build back some flimsy little bridge?” Frederick Buechner
If I consider my actions on a daily basis, I really do try to love others well. To reach out, to be available, to be willing to be sorry and open to change. But if I stop to consider my reactions on a daily basis – to those who hurt me, disappoint me, or hold substantially different views than my own, well, that’s not quite so attractive. I can be quick to judge. Easily offended. Justified in my frustration. Grateful to be on the right side of the issues (cringe). Yes, I’m increasingly convinced that the best mirror to reveal my spiritual condition is not my actions… it’s my reactions. They unveil a much more accurate picture of my heart.
Why the gap between good intentions and poor responses? How can Christians, who should be carrying the banner of loving well, speak with such disdain and condescension of their spiritual siblings who have different viewpoints? We all suffer from a degree of spiritual myopia, in which our vision is blurred and constantly needs adjustment. This side of heaven, none of us see with complete clarity.
“The New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like…. If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think that we should come away with a curious impression… each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid that very few of us would like the whole… We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian; every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.” C.S. Lewis
May we have the courage to look into the mirror of our reactions,
the humility to admit our imperfect vision,
and compassion for those who are suffering from vision impairment themselves.
Otherwise, we’re more like “them” than we’d like to admit. Or perhaps, that very admission is actually the first step to seeing more clearly.
Well, that’s it for today, folks. I hope that we’re still friends. And if we’re not, then I hope to be gracious in my response