I am afraid I am getting old. The evidence I would cite is not my more frequent visits to the doctor. The evidence does not arise out of my inability to sleep the night through, or the fact that I have to make some kind of grunting sound whenever I get in or out of a chair! It comes from the fact that I so much want some things to go back to the way they used to be! While I try to embrace change as much as anybody, valuing both the need and benefit change brings, sometimes I just don’t understand the way people think!
Let me give you just one example of the many I could name. I remember well a time when one of the key things any politician seeking to be elected would highlight was their ability to “work across the aisle.” They would tout all the ways that they had been able to accomplish legislation by building coalitions and agreements with members of the other party. That no longer seems to be valued at all.
In fact, during the last mid-year elections I actually heard a candidate being ripped apart by an opponent because they had dared to say that they would work with members of the other party on a given piece of legislation. I was amazed. How could that be a bad thing?? And the problem is it’s not seemingly getting any better.
And while I might be able to deal with that in politics, (though it certainly makes no sense at all), I see the same thing, too often, in the church culture as well. While some are seeking conversations across “party lines,” too often, we just hang out with people who think like we do, understand God the same way we do, and who fall in line with our side on pretty much every issue, decrying the perspective of anyone who doesn’t see it our way.
This is particularly distressing when the breadth of our theology and willingness to engage a variety of understandings of Scripture and God have been so much a part of our history. It is painful to see the lack of willingness to hear one another and to affirm the sacred worth of everyone in the conversation.
I pray for our government leaders that they might move beyond their partisan positioning and genuinely work together to get things done for the good of everyone.
But I pray—especially for our church—that all of us might move in intentional ways, beyond our common spheres of fellowship, where everyone thinks like we do, and intentionally seek out and engage conversations and dialogue with those at the other end of whatever issue we debate. Perhaps if we do, through Christ and the empowerment of God’s Spirit, we might just find ourselves modeling behavior that could help to change all the conversations around us.
Or…..maybe I’m just getting old!