Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sticks and stones...and even words hurt

Yesterday, I mentioned a monthly seminar some from our staff participated in on Monday. It’s possible you’ll be hearing me talk more about this over the next several posts (although, honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to write about until I sit down and face the white screen of “paper” in front of me…). We covered some deeply thought-provoking concepts and, as I work through them, they may become topics…as does today’s installment.


Here’s the quote that has stuck in my mind:

You do not build a society up by breaking the people within it down.


Immediately, I think of all the facebook posts that just make me cringe with their animosity towards some group or individual. And yes, do this enough, and I will just hide your posts. There is nothing helpful about ranting against a group of people, especially when you personalize it. We end up polarized and a polarized society is just a compilation of arguing factions all pointing their fingers at some other group. Hate wins.


As a people of faith – and no, not everyone on my “friends” list is a declared, card-carrying believer in Jesus Christ…or God, for that matter – but, for those of us who claim a Christian  identity, we are called to take seriously the commandment to love God, love neighbor, and love self.  This is the guiding principle for our faith. We can disagree on all kinds of things but we do so out of a stance of love. Or, at least, that’s what our faith calls us to do.


I have hurt people in my life. I guarantee you that I have not always operated out of that great commandment. I can not only get angry, I can employ sarcasm with a barbed and hurtful tongue. The more I grasp the love that God has for me, barbed tongue and all, the more I can step back and at least think before I spew. Most of the time. It’s something I have to work at…and sometimes, I do a better job than at other times. It is frighteningly easy for me to put my emotional needs ahead of my connection to God.


I share that to say that I get it. We struggle with our need to insist on our own way, our own needs, our own ideas, our own beliefs. But, the minute we tear someone or a group of someones apart because their ways, needs, ideas, or beliefs are different from ours, we are complicit in tearing down God’s people.


And that reminds me of another quote (no idea where I heard this but it has stuck with me for a long time)…

It is better to be in right relationship than to be right.


This is day 18 of the 40 days of Lent. What would it look like for us to choose to build up the people we encounter (or hear about on the news/online/etc) for the remainder of this season? What if we stopped finger-pointing and name-calling for the next 3 or so weeks? We are called to build up people, to love them just as they are – no matter how misguided and uninformed we may think they are. After all, God loves us just as we are…regardless.

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