This past week, I again submitted a controversial question to the Christian subreddit page. I didn’t think it would have been controversial, but apparently it is. The question was this “Despite all of our differences and the things that deeply divide us, do you think that the Church can ever one day be united and be whole again?”. There were many who were very staunchly against it on both sides. These were both progressive and traditional Christians who said that there would not be any unity so long as the other existed. I think this more than any other answer troubled me. Like I have written before I don’t feel like I fit into either of those camps. I consider myself to be more of a “fringe Christian” as some of the ideas and thoughts I have had can be considered rather wackadoodle. This troubled me because one of the things that I think I wanted to believe could be possible one day is that we could be united. That one day the church would be one again. I’m not sure why unity, in and of itself, is so divisive. I get the disdain between the camps of Christians, but to hate each other that boldly has got to come from somewhere.
I’ve noticed something here at the year mark of the most divisive presidency in United States history. I’ve noticed that the more we get riled up the more we fall into the trap of anger. I wrote before how anger can be a useful thing. That it can drive you to make things better, but when it stagnates it becomes hate. There is another downside to anger. It can trap you into thinking that you are alone. It can make you lash out at all around you for fear that they are going to hurt you as well. We end up even attacking those who are with us because we’ve been doused in this fear and anger for so long. It’s hard. It’s hard to resist for so long, to feel like you haven’t really anything to show for it. I know, I’m tired as well.
Recently I was reminded of ancient proverbs, from of all places, the book of Proverbs. There is one in particular that came to mind when I was on my silly endeavor to try to make the Evangelical leaders listen to reason and truth through twitter. This is the passage I was reminded of from Proverbs 23: 21-22
If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;
for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,
and the Lord will reward you.
Then I was reminded of Jesus’ words from Luke 6:22-26
‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
We have talked about part of this before. We have talked about just showing that you are a human being as well to your enemies. While watching Doctor Who’s 10th season AR (After Reboot), I was reminded of the Christmas Armistice of 1914. Cathy took great delight in telling me something about that day that I hadn’t already known. She told me that the soldiers who were involved in these moments of kindness and ceasefire were strongly reprimanded because they refused to fire upon their “enemies”. The men had refused because they began to see the other side as human as well. There is another moment in pop culture that this reminds me of as well there is a Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire” which references a book by the same name. In this episode the soldiers are made to see refugees as literal monsters by the implants in their head. This makes it easier for the soldiers to kill because they do not see human beings as human anymore. This leads to the usual Black Mirror existential philosophical crises that many of us experience after watching an episode. Maybe we can start calling this melancholic thoughtful mood, “Black Mirroritis”.
“Hey you wanna go for a beer?”
“Nope, sorry, I have Black Mirroritis.”
“No worries, man. I had that last week.”
See, I think I fell into the trap as well. I was angry and afraid for so long that I stopped seeing those who opposed me as fellow human beings, instead I started to see them as the other. I saw trolls and cockroaches where there should be human faces. I didn’t see the person behind the words and profile pictures of social media. I just saw “Trumpvangelical” boldly flashing in my mind in bright red. I’m guilty of this as well. I was until I was reminded of those words I shared with you a moment ago. Yes, I felt convicted. Yes, I also grew very weary of fighting my own mini-battles and waging social media war on those I felt were no longer human. But who am I to say that? They are human as well. They are loved as well. We would do well to remember that.
This last week in our podcast, (Subliminal message: LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST) we discussed the movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, maybe you’ve heard of it. I won’t spoil anything for you. There is a line in that movie that has been on repeat since I saw it in my mind. That line is this, “I saved you, dummy. That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” That line played over and over again in my head because, at first I thought I hated it. I really disliked at first the path the movie went in that moment. But the more I thought about it, the more I was reminded how true it really was. We don’t fight what we hate in order to win, we save what we love. I’ve been dismayed a bit recently as I look around at all of the other Christian Resistance writers and how they seem to focus their anger at 45 and trying to tear him down. I tried to make my stand on that before. I tried to do it in kind ways before as well. But I realized that fighting what we hate was futile. Resistance in that way is futile, because we are made of much less hate than we are of love.
People have learned how to fight the things they hate. They learned very well the lengths they would go to. They’ve learned how to fight dirty very well. The truth is, they are better at it than most. That’s because most of us know what love is. The more we see that disturbs us the more we get pulled down into that quagmire with them. The more we get pulled down the more divisive it becomes. Unity becomes a dirty word to us. We start playing their game instead of saving the things we love, we begin fighting that which we hate. We become the monsters we wanted to fight all along. That isn’t how it is supposed to go.
Surprisingly one of the biggest pop hits of recent music industry is a song by Selena Gomez. It’s called “Kill Em With Kindness” I’ve placed it below so that you can listen after you’ve read this. The point of all this is that I think we need to use our anger and fear not to fight what we hate, but instead to save what we love. We need to start being kind to other people. The Christmas Season is over, but we can carry the spirit of kindness and giving throughout the year. I think it’s time we stop trying to tear people down, instead we should build each other up. We should start seeing each other as human beings despite our political leanings. We should begin learning who it is that lives around us. We need to fight not with violence, but instead with kindness. By doing so it is like heaping burning coals upon our enemies heads. So to you who are weary. To you who have been pulled down into the quagmire, I say this; You are not alone! You matter! If you need a bit of kindness to remind you of the things you love, just ask. I’m here to help.