Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Result of Us/Them Thinking

There are two evangelical apologists whose blogs I follow. I don't read them often, because usually their blogs are boiler-plate bullet points presented in a "thou shalt" format. In addition, when I watch these two interact with those not of their belief line, they tend to be caustic, sarcastic, and abrupt (one particularly). I would chalk some of this up to the fact that people often tend to be a little more extreme in their online rhetoric than they are in real life. However, I know some folks who have interacted with these gentlemen personally, and their online persona seemed fairly consistent with real life. With these commentaries and experiences, I have not been able to help developing an underlying feeling that these two would be difficult to like.

So, I was a little surprised when I saw them interacting on a Youtube video recently and found them both to be pleasantly engaging. When I first became aware of the video, I assumed I would not be able to stomach more than 5 minutes of their firery and frustrated discussion.

In the video, they were discussing their theological problems with Mormonism. Their points, though biased, were clearly and calmly presented in a tone void of sarcasm and eye-rolling. I found this to be very out of character in contrast to my previous experiences. This was bordering on civil and respectful. What was going on here?

An explanation occurred to me later that evening. There was no THEM in the conversation... there was only US. Anger, fear, and frustration were not present, because everyone in this conversation belonged. Both speakers were comfortable and at ease, because they felt safe with one another.

This experience showed to me again why the US/THEM approach to life is wounded and hobbled. When we place someone in a position of opposition, there cannot help but be feelings of unease and defensiveness. Under such emotions, it is not a far step to frustration and anger. Contempt and hatred are often the natural result.

Jesus had myriads following him happily from every walk of life and situation. People whom much of the Christian culture would define as THEM, would travel uncomfortable distances just to be near him.


Because to Jesus, everyone belonged.


didymus said...

Are you talking about the two guys I think you're talking about and I know these guys as well?

Anyway, your point about there being no 'them' in their conversation is very true.

WES ELLIS said...

great thoughts! If it's foolish to live life in an US/THEM mode, it's even more foolish to devote significant time to creating such dichotomies, which is precisely what we too so often in the church. If we devoted the same kind of time to loving one another and devoting ourselves to God's people as we do to naming our enemies, we'd look a lot more like Christ's church than we do now.

I read it somewhere: "We better get it together because Jesus is coming back, and he coming for a Bride, not a harem."

Redlefty said...

Love it! I'm preaching on this exact topic on July 12.

It's impossible to behave like Jesus until we can perceive like him.

Andrew said...

Didymus - Heh... the point is the example... :)

Wes - Yep ... I have never seen anyone whose "ministry" specializes in pointing out someone's "error", come out the other end with a loving heart.

Red- Your phrase nails it! I will be borrowing that one on a regular basis if ya don't mind. :)

Andrew said...

Hey Red, does your church post its audio? Would love to hear that sermon!

Redlefty said...

Yep, Andrew -- my church posted the sermon. There are both audio and video files available.

Notes are in my blog... unfortunately even though it's been three months since the sermon, you won't have to scroll down very far in my blog before you see the link!

I'm about to get more prolific on the blogging again. I can feel it.

Redlefty said...

I'm a tard... you were asking about my upcoming sermon.

Yes, it'll be posted by July 16 or 17th, I'd think.

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