Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Offense of Defense: Me being a walking oxymoron

Leaving my thoughts and opinions on one side or the other of this "Chick Fil A controversy" out, I have had the following thoughts in the last few weeks, as I've watched yet another culture war play out. I have had more thoughts, but in an effort to not negate the point I am actually making here, I'm going to leave those opinions somewhere else.

Consider the above paragraph the last thing you'll hear me say about Chick Fil A.

What I saw today was a group of people who shared a common belief rallying together by the millions to support that belief.  I was incredibly encouraged by this, yet dishearteningly discouraged by it all at the same time.

You see, often times we hide ourselves behind a mask of societal culture wars without even realizing this is what we are doing. I am as guilty of this as anyone else. Trust me.  I have a degree in political science, am about to enter a career in social justice, and I deliberately surround myself with people from a variety of backgrounds so as to broaden my opinions and see things from all points of view.  When it comes to engaging in culture wars, I could be your commander in chief.

It is this most recent culture war though, that God has used to convict me on this issue.  You see, I am people pleaser.  I enjoy seeing everyone happy.  I like for everyone to win. I also get a huge kick out of playing Devil's Advocate, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that, should I ever get this first round of grad school loans paid off so I can afford MORE school, I could eventually become a lawyer.  I enjoy engaging in dialogue. I revel in making a point. Obviously.

What I realized though, is often times, we become so focused on beating dead horses that we end up losing sight of our original motives (again, guilty as charged).  Particularly as Christians. We run the risk of crossing over from the point of "I love you and I want the best for you and everyone else," to "IN YOUR FACE, in the name of Jesus." It's a fine line, and it's easily blurred, but if we get so caught up on making points, it is sooooo easy to forget why we were making those points in the first place.

This week, instead of replying to posts on Facebook, various blogs, or newspaper articles on the fly, I've begun a new exercise in self-control.  I'm not saying this is something everyone should do, I'm just candidly expressing to you what I've learned through this latest round of "Who's Intolerant: Me or You?".  Prior to pressing the "post" button, or "send," or whatever, I've thought through my motives for saying what I want to say.  Is what I have to say going to resolve anything?  Am I going to open the eyes of someone else to a point of view they maybe haven't thought of, and if so, why?  Am I seeking self-glorification or am I trying to glorify the Lord?

Then, the most important question of all: Is what I'm saying going to harm my ability to share the love of Jesus with anyone else in the present or future?

This is not to say I haven't haphazardly posted something for the sake of good dialogue.  Again, there's nothing wrong with a good discussion on a topic, so long as both sides are willing to hear each other out. The ability to debate is crucial to our ability to function as a society.  It's key to getting things done.

My point is, we need to make sure that what we debate has value, and that if it doesn't have value, that what we say is in no way going to be a detriment to something that does.

Today millions of people across the country united for a common cause, and while I do feel this cause has value on both sides, it led me to question why we aren't doing this more. What's our REAL reason for placing one cause above another?  Is it because perhaps this particular cause benefits us personally in some way and perhaps something else might not?

I don't know. I don't have the answers to this, but it's an observation.

Jesus taught us to be radical.  I get that. I'm all for that.  My question is: What are we being radical ABOUT?

Where's our passion over the thousands of kids in this world who have no homes, while thousands of families cry and plead to have children but are facing barriers in doing so?

Where's our passion over the educational injustices of society? Where's our love for people who are working hard for their families, sometimes doing multiple jobs, but still do not make enough money to support them?

PLEASE, by all means, be passionate. Be radical. We've now PROVED by the millions who sat in long lines to eat chicken and drink lemonade today, that we know HOW to be passionate about something, so go and do it where it counts the most. No excuses.

"Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.  For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish -- that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder" - 2 Corinthians 12:19-20, ESV

(and yes, I recognize the inherent hypocrisy in saying "here's my radical view on why we should or shouldn't have radical views" but bear with me, there's really no other way to make say it)