Red – Blue. Left – Right. Christian – Secular. ProLife – ProChoice. FaceBook – Parlor. Coke – Pepsi. Granny Bees – Rail Yard. We find a lot of reasons to separate ourselves, reasons to divide.
Our culture already is preparing to punish those that oppose the agenda of whatever side has affluence. We are in a cultural civil war. Even in the church’s circle of influence, there is much division. How do we handle this?
On a news station the other day, they said the solution (in regards to politicians in DC) was alcohol. Not that they were advocating drunkenness, they were calling for socializing. You could oppose and fight vigorously on the senate or house floor; but at the end of the day, you went down to the local pub/restaurant and downed a few drinks together.
You didn’t see the opposition as enemies, as evil ones that need to be eradicated. You saw them as people. People that disagreed in philosophy and world view. People that were opposite in positions but still had the best of intentions, even if different ways to get there.
Years ago, there was a great divide in the churches in England. George Whitfield was a leader on one side. And John Wesley on the other. Some pretty heated barbs were exchanged … and this was long before Twitter. Upon Whitfield’s death, Wesley used this discussion in a sermon talking about his opponent Whitfield.
"One day, after Whitefield's decease, John Wesley was timidly approached by one of the godly band of Christian sisters who had been brought under his influences and who loved both Whitefield and himself:
"' Dear Mr. Wesley, may I ask you a question?'
"' Yes, of course, madam, by all means.'
"' But, dear Mr. Wesley, I am very much afraid what the answer will be.'
"' Well, madam, let me hear your question, and then you will know my reply.'
"At last, after not a little hesitation, the inquirer tremblingly asked, ' Dear Mr. Wesley, do you expect to see dear Mr. Whitefield in heaven?'
"A lengthy pause followed, after which John Wesley replied with great seriousness, 'No, madam.' "His inquirer at once exclaimed, 'Ah, I was afraid you would say so.'
"To which John Wesley added, with intense earnestness, ' Do not misunderstand me, madam; George Whitefield was so bright a star in the firmament of God's glory, and will stand so near the throne, that one like me, who am less than the least, will never catch a glimpse of him.'"
Say what? Shouldn’t he claim victory, declare his side was more prominent in every scenario? Take the win, John.
What if we saw people as people? What if we declared relationships were important? What if we cared about there soul more than we cared if we are right?
Maybe that’s why scripture tells us to not sue other brethren. Or that we are to pray for those that persecute us. Or that we are be a blessing to our enemies.
One of my favorite shows of years gone by was Cheers. The theme song says a lot …
Sometimes you wanna go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name
This is not about compromise values. This is not about being walked on by others. This is about respecting each person as a … as a person. They have brothers, sisters, mothers, children, worries, fears, dreams … just like you.
So maybe you need to sit with someone today and share drinks. I recommend a chocolate shake from Shake Shack. I miss those.