Are we For or Against?

I want to lobby for a new day in the way we think of ourselves and engage the world around us. I am tired, impatient, angry, even embarrassed by a consistent trend in the Christian community. There are times when I hear the diatribes of those who claim the name of Christ and I feel ashamed to be affiliated with their hostility toward people we are commanded to love.

When did following Jesus become focused on fighting against a very selective group of social ills? When did such a finite short list of issues become the litmus test of orthodoxy? When did what we are against become the defining characteristic of who we are? Instead of defining ourselves by what we are against, I want to make the appeal that it is time we should be defined by who we are for.

Let me say it again:

Instead of defining ourselves by what we are against,
it is time to define ourselves by who we are for!

It strikes me that there are significant dangers in identifying ourselves by what we are against:

1.) It is intellectually lazy…
That is, it is easy to be a critic. As a critic, I don’t have to work through the demanding discipline of defining a preferred future, I can just attack what I don’t like. Unbridled criticism injures people.

2.) It is morally arrogant…
My ego likes the idea that I might be somehow superior, and when I posture myself in opposition to the practices and lifestyles of others, I subtly nurture that superiority.

3.) It is spiritually corrupting…
When I rail against the immoral behaviors of someone else, I am building an illusion that my own moral failures are less abhorrent. I can hide my personal need and sin behind the blustering and posturing of my rhetoric.

4.) It is a betrayal of the message and heartbeat of Jesus…
… especially heinous when carried out in the name of Jesus. In the most amazing ways Jesus was able to engage “saints” and “sinners.”
He was able to live in the fullness of pure grace and absolute truth. Scores of people with whom many of us would never be at home felt at home with Jesus.

Funny thing, the more I write about what is wrong with this pattern — focusing on what we are against — the more I feel I am doing the very same thing. So, let me shift gears…

I am for people of all stripes who need to know the transforming work of Jesus. I am for those who are broken and those who have lots to give. I am for those who yearn to make a difference in the world and those for whom the world is overwhelming. I am for people who are powerless and for those who have power to spare.

I am for Christians who are trying to figure out how to follow Jesus in a world that is changing from day to day. I am for church leaders who give their lives away in selfless service to others. I am for people.  And, I am for following Jesus into the world and into relationships with people of all types. His was the greatest life ever ever lived and the incarnation of hope for mankind.

Since this blog is about the lessons I am learning at the intersection of life and leadership, I need to add a word for those in positions of influence. It is time for all of to dial down the hostile rhetoric and dial up compassionate listening.