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.