Have you ever been headed down a mountainside covered in dirt? You can't tell the solid ground from the loose gravel. Every step you take threatens to be the one to cause a landslide right off the cliff.
I believe we are amid a relational descent in our society. Division at every corner, literal and proverbial. Each conversation, post, or interaction might be the step that sends us tumbling down like Jack and Jill.
If you are like me, you might be asking, "how did we get here?" And "why can't I have civilized conversations about heavy stuff without worrying I will burn a bridge?"
Jen Wilkin answeres this quite simply in her book, In His Image*. She writes, 'living my truth will inevitably prevent someone else from living theirs if our preferences are at odds with one another. Living my truth destroys my ability to live within community as I was intended not on actualizing all of my personal preferences but on laying them down for the good of others. Living my truth is actually living a lie."
I can think of several times where I've been so convinced of my own truth that I discounted a friend or family member's worth. I stopped viewing that person as an image-bearer of God, and in my self-righteousness, they became less than.
Many places in scripture speak against this kind of hypocrisy, but the story of the two men in the Temple really resonates with me on this particular occasion.
"Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: 'I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. - Luke 18:10-14
The Pharisee was looking at the faults of others. He felt secure in his efforts and opinions, his own truth, that he could not view anyone else as worthy. The tax collector had a very different view of himself. He was a sinner, just like everyone else, in need of a Savior. His truth was God's Truth.
What I love about our God is how relational He is. Rather than falling down the mountain of relational hurt, He wants us to remain in communion with one another. He gives us Truth to pull us off the side of the cliff while He builds a bridge, and then gives us tools to walk across it.
When our hearts align with the Truth we can sit in uncomfortable tension with others and still love them as He loves them.
How will you choose to cross the chasm?
October 27, 2020