Friday, March 12, 2010
Have you noticed lately that it seems like our culture has de-evolved into a society where people can't get along with each other very well? What I mean by this is that we can't seem to agree. And when we seek agreement, we really only mean that the Other person should fully accept our idea/view/desire 100%.
The seems to me to be something like Idolatry.
Let me explain. An Idol is something that is a false form. It lacks truth. You don't have to be particularly religious to understand this. Some are glued to their TV sets to find out exactly "who" the next American Idol will be. Now this person may be a great vocalist, but nobody actually believes they are due any amount or worship. Envy maybe, but not worship.
Now, there are some who treat their own opinions and ideas as though they rise to a god-like level of correctness. And even when a significant amount of people point out the possibility that they might not be "right" they Idolize their own "rightness" by showing that people have always believed their idea, or that maybe popular opinion favors them in the majority rule, or maybe even a sacred text give them some sort of foundation (often one in which the original ancient author would not even understand or agree to), etc. etc.
So what are we left with? Everyone seeking agreement? Who holds truth?
For those of us who claim to believe in God, and not just any old god, but the God of Jesus Christ, I believe we have a standard to live up to when seeking another person's "yes" or respecting another person's "no" to our idea/view/desire.
Let's start with our relationship with God. It seems that God is often saying "yes" to some things and "no" to other things whether we agree with God or not. Some things are good and loving and other things cause harm even to the point of death at times. The Christian God says "yes" repeatedly to the things of love and "no" repeatedly to the things that I'll call not-love.
Now, I think even a person who thinks there is no possibility of God could agree that love is good and not-love is bad. But I am willing to entertain the notion that I could be wrong even on this.
So in my little journey with God, I often find times when I think God is saying "Yes" do this or do that and my response is: "I don't want to." Maybe it involves giving my last $20 to a good cause, or giving up my vacation to serve others, or giving up my weekend to help a friend in need. If I am honest, often, I don't want to do the most loving thing.
Now there are also times when I think God must be saying "no" that's not a good idea/plan/direction and I respond with "Yes I want to anyway." Well of course we all do this and often there is nothing original about saying "yes I want my way not yours" to God.
But, if God is God, and if we are to grow as a reflection of God, not just for our own good but also for the benefit of the entire world, if we are to reflect God's Image and not the image of some lesser "idol" then we will allow ourselves to say "yes" to God's "yes" and agree our own "no" to God's "no" because we can agree it is actually best. Our "no" changes into God's "yes" because we decide that we don't hold all of the truth.
Now, if our relationships with each other are to be God-like, then we will seek agreement on a "yes" or on a "no" with each other because God seeks the same with us. It is all about relationships. If my relationship with God has nothing to do with YOU, then this is indeed a stupid idea that I am articulating. But, if my relationships are tied up with your relationships, and God's relationships, then how can I/you/we idolize our own idea/view/desire and not seek agreements?
Sometimes the difference between "yes" and "no" is a very thin place. If I say "yes" to eating beef all the time, in excess of anything reasonable, not only am I effecting my own health, but I am doing damage to you and your world. If I burn pollutants without any care for you, then I am just not in "right-relationship" with you, or for that matter with God.
If I think you are not entitled to the same care, concern, and value that I am, because am rich, or popular, or American, or white, or male, then I can not agree with your plea for help/change/repair.
My "yes" and my "no" somehow have greater value than yours. It is an Idol. Because it also means that my "yes" and my "no" can be even greater than God's. The ethic of love in relationship would say that your "yes" and your "no" would hold at least equal weight to mine but that God's "yes" and God's "no" would be the standard. The thin fragile line between yes and no is where agreement can be found only by those who seek the greater good.
So, how can we agree, become of one mind, one heart, one course?
It would seem to me that we have a perfect example of how God works toward our saying "yes" to love and "no" to not-love. It is in the person and work of Jesus. It appears in the Gospel story that Jesus does indeed seek the greater good. Jesus seeks love. Love of God. Love of neighbor. Love of self. Read the story. Can we agree?
Let our "yes" be God's "yes" and our "no" God's "no" for the greater good in all things at all times. Let's agree to work to agree in all things at all times. Too hard you say? With God all things are possible. Can we agree?
Copyright 2010, Charles W. Harrison, The Center for Wesleyan Renewal www.CFWR.org