In most of what I do, I try to remain as “middle-of-the-road” as possible. With this 2016 election year becoming more of an eyesore everyday, it’s a weird time to be alive.
Strategically, I think it’s best to remain capable of working with people on either side of large, hysterical social divides. Whether differences are cultural, political, philosophical, etc., it is better to extend grace to people who need it, regardless of personal opinions. When you work with young kids, you constantly expect to be the grace-giver. When a kid wasn’t listening and needs the instructions said one more time, or got paint all over the table, or slapped his partner right across the face, it’s generally a better game plan to be patient. These days, I notice so few Christians leaning into grace-giving moments and providing sound teachings. Whether you are dealing with an older human or the young ones (who are sooooo much easier to forgive), every mistake or disappointment is an opportunity to respond with Christ’s indefinite love. Which is awesome.
I see a lot of Christians blaming people for brokenness instead of stepping into other people’s situations. In a purely strategic sense, it makes sense that Christians would lose their credibility with a mindset like that. I have heard Christians complaining about how much the world hates us, but given how political Christianity has become and how little grace so many Christians seem have, I know for a fact that relationship is a two way street. You can’t exactly complain that your neighbor slapped you across the face when you pinched him first.
Part of the bliss of remaining moderate is having the ability to act like a grown adult. Instead of viewing one side as more philosophically/politically advanced than the other (aka partiality), I can just reason that both sides are wrong, because both sides are fighting about issues in which both sides have legitimate perspectives. It’s a lot easier to sit on one’s high horse and critique [insert name of political group/religious entity/whatever here] because one wants to win the altercation, but could it be that if people are fighting to begin with, they’ve already missed the point?
Just like when you have to separate two kids, I don’t want to hear what your justification is. Hearing the words we use to justify ourselves in moments where we haven’t brought glory to God are more useless than even silence. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and regroup.
The problem with privileging one side over the other is that we forget that God cares about both sides of an issue. It is my belief that he cares a lot more about how we work with one another than who gets that adrenaline rush of victory. When we create absolute realities with ourselves as much more morally advanced than our opponent, we essentially create idols and enlarge rifts in how we see others in a way that dishonors God.
After we’ve made diverse personal realities because we couldn’t just get along with one another, something fascinating happens. In order to stick with the things we’ve already decided we believe, we invent frivolous reasons to hate one another than extend way past any substantive issue. Just like getting Tarot readings or discerning tea leaves, we hunt for evidence that will drive us further and further away from “the unrighteous”. Sure, we retain our Christian theology, but we no longer understand it. We have our systems and our rules and our formulas for who deserves acceptance, but at the end of the day, it’s all garbage. In trying to crucify one another, we forget what grace is.
Grace is inextricably free. It’s one of those happy accident, “didn’t-have-to-but-he-wanted-to”, “allow-it-to-just-be-a-gift” kinds of things. Forfeiting our satanic birthright of always assuming we know everything and that we are the sole bearers of the truth, we allow other people to be broken as we look to God for help and healing. Whether it’s forgiving a friend, being a good neighbor, or simply showing up, grace is the part where you stop paying attention to what a person deserves, and just try to do what is in your power (or prayerfully in Gods) so that they can receive healing. Grace is as good as it gets.
Might it be a good thing to remember that we do not have the perspective of God? Might it be a healthy, holistic thing to notice that we don’t have to be right about everything? Might somebody’s salvation be more important to the body of Christ than proving our moral vindication? Without free and spontaneous forgiveness, we’re losing the point.
I believe in a Savior who infinitely knew how bad the situation was, and was still willing to die to fix it. I get that the world may not understand right and wrong the same way as the Son of God, but I’m not willing to bet that I fully understand what he’s saying to me either. I’d rather be a sister of someone and come to God together than act like a bankrupt moral authority that doesn’t know my place. That strategy isn’t working. Let God let it be what it is.
If you want any more proof that every single person under the sun has their own personal agenda, answer me this riddle: How can everybody’s ex-significant others/bad friends be worse than the individual human being you might be talking to? After a while, if we were always right and those people were always wrong, might the people who were wrong start overlapping the people who were right in a way that left us all right and wrong, good and bad, healthy and broken? Then why for the love of God do we act as though people are this 100/100 purely pure or demonically demon kind of creation? If we can’t all be sinners, can we understand grace? If we can’t all be saints, how can we hope to ever learn from God? We are wasting our time in trying to superimpose our opinions onto a sense of “divine morality”. Divine morality puts us all beyond the power of the cross. With perfectly divine black and white thinking, we’d all be infinitely screwed.