How Are We Going to Move Beyond?
Or will we just stay in fight or flight mode with each other?
I’ve done a lot of arguing that Jesus doesn’t have a lot of time for his critics, but I wonder if that’s not a self-serving take, that leads me away from my own discomfort, but also away from what the gospel calls me to be. My greatest ambition and my greatest temptation are the same: to be freed from rejection and emotional pain. I know that is not possible, but if you are familiar with the enneagram, I am a strong 7 and that’s kind of our thing. When I meet other 7s, especially ones who are seeking to be self-reflective, I ask them, “I know what I’m running from; what are you running from?” The answers are sometimes staggering and speak to a world of hard life experiences. Sometimes it is that a person has been abused or bullied. At other times, the person has been neglected and they seek to emotionally repay the favor to the universe. One time though, the person I asked took a long moment and responded,
“My mom married my stepdad when I was eight; from that moment on, I knew I would never be enough.”
As such, when you think about me and imagine fight or flight scenarios, know that I would deeply prefer not to fight and will look for every exit. This morning, in the soft sunlight of my office, warm and safe from attack, sipping coffee and being surrounded by the soft sounds of my wife and daughter waking up and joining the awakened world, I can realize that far too often, I have made Jesus and his actions look like me.
I’m not going to actually do a text search, but a quick Google search says that Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees in 77 verses of the Bible. It’s probably not an accurate accounting, but it’s close enough for what I am trying to show. It happens a lot. Jesus is mostly minding his own business, helping people or preaching, when the Pharisees come along, curious and one the offensive. They have questions for him that aren’t just questions. They ask questions like, “Why do your disciples break the Sabbath?” Or another, “Why do they not do ritual washing?” Or even, “Can you show us a sign?” These are questions not asked out of pure curiosity, though I believe they were curious. They are questions built to discredit. They are criticisms with a question mark.
In a world of red hats and “Let’s Go Brandon” and opportunities to call conservatives nazis, the rhetoric has reached a point to which we can no longer talk. We have to ask a series of questions, offering litmus test after litmus test before we can begin to ask authentically curious questions or offer our vulnerable selves to one another. We have to make sure the person sitting across from us is on our team, that she isn’t a Pharisee.
What do we do now? I am genuinely curious about this question. I genuinely want to know how we can move forward looking for what C.S. Lewis called the Highest Common Factor. What do we have in common as we move to mission and outreach in the name of the one who sends us?
What are your thoughts?