March and April were CRAZY months.
Ultimately, these crises of belief were about the concept of identity, my own. Asking the question “Who am I?” yields many possible answers, among them:
- father, son, husband, pastor, Christian, white, male, heterosexual, runner, car driver, Buckeye fan…there are likely hundred’s of other ways I may be identified.
As I sought to understand just what, why, and how I believed, those various identities all brought with them what we might call “baggage”- presuppositions, assumptions, understandings…all informed by previous experiences.
Another way to look (no pun intended) at this is to use the metaphor of the lenses in a pair of glasses:
A few months ago, I got a new pair of glasses because my prescription had changed. My vision was affected by those lenses. I was not truly seeing what I was seeing. I needed to go to the eye doctor to get an accurate prescription- I needed someone else to speak truth into me, to correct my vision, to show me what I was missing.
One of the things I’ve learned is that I have the most to learn from “the other.”
Several years ago I had a conversation with a friend that was instrumental in helping me understand the other. She and I serve on a team of youth ministry leaders that work with Group Publishing.
The catalyst of this conversation was Group Magazine’s article on sexual sin. They (Group) took a stand and this put her, and others, at odds with Group. Over the next several days and weeks, Melissa and I had conversations via Facebook Messenger about the topic, and a few months later at the annual gathering of our team in Colorado, we sat down across a table for one another and simply dialogued with one another. We talked about our “baggage” and where those assumptions came from. While we were not in perfect agreement, we were able to not only have a conversation that was respectful and kind, but productive and showed the bond of love that Christians are supposed to have with one another. Our friendship has continued to grow, and Melissa is one of my closest friends.
Back in February (which is where all of these current posts got their start), she sent me a text out of the blue that simply said, “I need to debate something with you when you have the time.” I called her and for the next 45 minutes, we talked about the writings of Paul, and whether or not, why, and how what Paul wrote was inspired as well as how we might know when or if Paul was merely writing within his own time and place or was what he had to say to apply to all believers.
Neither of us was out to “win” but to simply converse, to listen. She knew before she called how I would respond to her questions and thoughts.
After we hung up, we texted back and forth a bit, each expressing thankfulness to the other for the simple ability to share. Melissa said something to me that should be a goal of all of ours: “I knew that you wouldn’t ‘argue’ with me, but lovingly listen to me and pose questions, push back and other thoughts.”
Here’s the real challenge for us. We must seek to understand “the other” because that’s just what Jesus did. People are not projects but are made in God’s image. They deserve to be respected, loved and cared for. Especially when we disagree with them.