Yesterday I had a discussion with a family member with whom I don’t always see eye-to-eye, not theologically, politically, or even common sensically. We don’t hate each other or anything (not that I know of, at least), but we just see things differently and interpret the world differently. We were talking about church and our current COVID practices and what not, and after about 20-30 tangents he asked me if I were left leaning, right leaning, or somewhere in between.
And I didn’t want to answer. I felt like I didn’t need to, as I’m just Nathan, with Nathan’s thoughts and opinions and interpretations. Why do those thoughts and interpretations need to be labelled and thus (in my view) pigeon-holed into whatever stereotype anyone has (including ourselves) of such labels? So I told him that I’m leaning towards the side of righteousness and human decency. And his response was “everyone can say that”.
And he isn’t wrong. I don’t think anyone on any side of the opinion spectrum purposely sits there maliciously wanting to annoy the opposite end. Most people want to be seen as right and doing what is best for history. No one I personally know has any intention of just being bad.
Yet we see each other that way anyway. And honestly I don’t know how to stop people from doing as much, or if it’s even possible.
But I guess the big question for ourselves then is if we’re acting for what we think is best for us, or what is best for the community and relationship with our siblings in Christ and among the human race? It is easy to draw lines between us and them, but it is by God’s grace that we can erase those lines and understand the other, working on reconciliation, unity, and equality for the good of all.
I see some stark differences of opinion in these texts, between what are the ways of God and the ways of the world. Sometimes they intersect, but when they don’t it seems like tempers flare, violence erupts, and division runs deeper. We have Abram trying to take God’s promise in his own hands and by his own understanding, we have Paul facing persecution, and of course Jesus weeping over Jerusalem who wants him dead. These texts hit me a bit different this week as I see so much division in the world, much of which I see as so unnecessary and in the way of community and right relationship. But as it was in these bible times, people will be people will be people. And people will often follow what they think is right at the time without putting thought into the big picture.
This big picture is one full of healing, hope, and community. I think this is what Jesus means when he goes all mother hen on Jerusalem, that he wants just what is best for God’s people, not politically on a global scale, but how they regard, treat, and respect each other. But it is hard to give up the ways of the world that have been ingrained in us for so long. It is difficult to peel off those lenses that have made so much sense to us. It is basically impossible to change our minds once it’s been made up. So much so that Jesus died on the cross because of it.
And the amazing thing about that is Jesus continued to love even when he faced such hate. Jesus continued to heal and minister even to his own brokenness. Jesus continued live even after death.
This is the kind of attitude that we can aspire to, find strength in, and put our hope.
Thanks be to God. May you all have a wonderful week!