Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be. Thoughtful.

There’s some things off limits to discussion in just about every church. We find it hard to talk about war, poverty, justice, immigration, abuse, politics, Israel, and life issues.  Why?

In just about every church there is an assumption that just about everyone is in lockstep on important cultural and theological issues.  After all, most church folks believe, we (our congregation) has landed on the correct biblical and theological landing place for just about everything.

And so at many churches one dares not utter a contrarian viewpoint in fear of being shunned or labeled.   And one learns quickly not to ‘think out loud’ lest they get pounded on by the gatekeepers of church order and decorum. That’s actually why a lot of people leave churches.   They feel they have to conform to some ‘group think’ in order to be accepted. 

It’s hard to be a liberal in most evangelical churches.  And try being a conservative voice in a church with a more open theology.  It takes a bit of courage to be that ‘other’ voice.

I once mentioned CNN in a sermon and was chided by someone who said “we’re a FOX church”.  Really.  I thought we were a Jesus church.

I once had a group of evangelicals walk away from me because I told them that I first met Jesus in a Catholic Church. They couldn’t handle it. It shattered their paradigm of  proper conversion. And so instead of grappling with it they just chose to dismiss me.

We don’t like to hear things that shatter our illusions of what’s right.  And frankly there are a fair amount of illusions of rightness all around us.

All the big issues of the day need to have ‘thoughtfulness’ woven in and through every discussion. Christ followers need to be part of that discussion.  But how many Christ followers are thoughtful enough to consider someone else’s viewpoint as having value.  Too few. Why?  Because we’re too wrapped up in our notion of being right.

And here’s the big, bad, dark secret of the church.  Much of our thinking is really, really, really not biblically informed.  We’ve latched on to a word, a phrase, or a verse to make simplistic applications that support our version of the truth around very complex issues. Worse yet. We grab on to a political or economic point of view and try to make it seamlessly tie into scripture. That’s crazy.

And here’s another secret.  We are unwilling to be faced with another way of looking at things.  In fact, we look for churches filled with people just like us.

I’d like to start a movement called “Be thoughtful”.  In order to join the movement one must pledge to read widely (that means outside your comfort zone), to seek out other good people who think differently and actually have a conversation where you spend most of your time listening for understanding, and to purposefully listen and watch news shows that just might tick you off.  To ‘be thoughtful’ means to intentionally become informed beyond what you currently know even to the point of possibly changing your mind.

We need each other.  We really do. But if we sterilize our thinking and limit our access to differences we will only surround ourselves with tame people who will only parrot back to us what we already know.  That’s really not much fun.

Perhaps we’ve been taught to stay away from controversy.  That’s very sad. What if we all became safe enough so that talking and more importantly listening our way through an issue became the norm?  


David Lano said...

Mike, I love this. So true and such a good reminder. Thank you!

C. R. Spooner said...

Thanks for laying those "secrets" out there.

A "FOX church"? Should be rediculous words to describe a church.

Actually a good description of a network's viewing base, glued to the commentaries as if they are gospel truth.

Anonymous said...

In George Orwell's "1984" we were introduced to the idea of "DoubleThink," or the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

Mike, your post had me wondering, is "DoubleThink" alive in Christianity today? In me???

Is that why we can read God's word, (you know, the imperative parts that call us to action, as His followers, in such compelling ways) and yet we scarcely change the position of our "Lazy Boy Chairs" while reading it?

And yet, when we close His book, we do it with such conviction that we are His... that WE ARE CHRISTIANS!

Orwell suggested that this "process" of DoubleThink had to be concious so we could carry it out with sufficient precision, but also necessarily subconcious, or the "false-ness" of it all would awaken us to REAL truth, or worse... profound gulit.

It is this profoundly unconcious aspect of our Christian "DoubleSpeak" and "DoubleThink" which lulls us ALL into a false sense of comfort that Jesus is generally pleased with us.

Anyway Mike, your post left me wondering why I lacked the courage to truly respond to His word. Have I become too obsessed with my own personal comforts and security to lose my life for Him?

Maybe what The Christian Church needs is a modern day Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Micah.

Or sadly, perhaps he is already in our midst, but our Doublethink dulls his message until we are "comfortable enough" with it.

I am starting to understand Jeremiah's dilemma... he shook his people up and they just marginalized him.

Mark in Lombard

steve said...

Thank you for great article. I found Jesus returning to the Catholic Church.