Thursday, December 9, 2021

A Call to Believe and Think (in that order)


Our church didn't meet in person for about six weeks at the start of know...the thing. When we started meeting in person again in April 2020, we agreed to a basic two-step plan:

1. We will study the issues and think for ourselves in order to form our own personal convictions.

2. We will show grace and kindness toward others, whether or not they agreed with our personal convictions.

It's important that the two-step process is performed in that order.

I'm thankful to say we're doing well in this endeavor. People are actually existing together in peace even though they have drawn very different conclusions about what's going on and how they should respond. To this day, church leadership hasn't told anyone what to do and we don't think it's the responsibility of any governing body in society to force people to respond in any particular way to this issue. It's a complicated situation and individuals should be free to make their own decisions; and, at our church, they have.

In the culture at large, though, there has not been such peaceful co-existing. The main problem seems to be that very few people want to do step one above. Many, many people want to be told what to think and, subsequently, what to do. On top of that, they're quite literally scared senseless.

This frightened posture is not only lazy and sad -- it's dangerous.

Consider what happens: When you're persuaded by a certain group to believe that they are the true voice of reason on the debate of the day, you become tribal and combative. You can't show grace or kindness toward others, because they are the enemies of the true voice of reason. You can't even see the issue clearly anymore because you're committed to your team no matter what.

Tribal loyalty on a relatively insignificant issue will inevitably cloud the actual significant issues. As more and more people behave this way, it leaves houses and communities divided.

We would do well to check ourselves and plea with our neighbors for basic critical thinking from the position of individual stewardship. This is the foundational belief that leads to peaceful co-existence. We must reject the hostile tribalism that's running rampant in our communities. We need to confess ignorance on many more things than we'd like to admit. We should seek to love one another better.

Yet, as I've pondered this, I've become convinced that this can only happen when fear is taken out of the equation. Scared people are unreasonable people. In order to think rightly, emotions must be held in check. But how can fear be eradicated?

As always, the answer is Jesus. Peace with the Creator of all -- a peace that no one can take away -- changes the whole conversation. Hear what the Bible says:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another...We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:7-11, 16-19)

To read another article I've written on this topic, click here.

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