I'm still learning humility. I suppose if every person was really honest with his or herself, we'd all have to confess to this. What I get tripped up more often than not isn't blatant pride (not that I haven't sprawled headlong in this place myself once or twice); rather, I get this sense I've been led to a place by Christ, I'm overjoyed and in awe at the depth of relationship it brings, and excited to share this journey with others.
… others disagree.
In fact, others who claim to be loving seem to act unjustly towards the rest of the world; and that epiphany I've had with Jesus kicks into a kick-ass ideology, ready to strike down what I see as stupidity and injustice. Is that pride? I don't think it starts out as pride, but I'm learning that perhaps it quickly has a one night stand with pride — hot and heavy — and BAM!
Something akin to pride is born, and it isn't very nice. I still feel justified in my stand (still being in this place with Christ); but constantly trying to prove myself correct all the time seems to only drain me, divide me from myself, and divide me from others.
This week, young earth creationist Ken Ham debated atheist Bill Nye ("The Science Guy", in case you need to Google that… do you know what "Google" is, Henri? Just tryin' to keep it real…) over whether or not creationism was a viable explanation for the origin of the universe.
I'm almost embarassed to say I was embarassed to be a Christian.
Ham's responses were a debacle. Not that I've been a fan of his, but still… if you create a debate and invite others to join, wouldn't you think it important to try and answer your own question? Ham dodged, feinted, evangelized (in live debate!) — did EVERYTHING except answer his own question. He kept holding up the Bible like some icon to be worshipped.
… he was closed. Nothing was going to change his mind.
Bill Nye, while unconvinced that there is a God, said out loud that he believes religion and spirituality are important to millions of people, play huge roles in our global culture, AND…
… said that if there could be scientific evidence of a Higher Power, he'd change. He was open.
To be honest, neither participant won the discussion. Ham followed up the next night with a post-debate something or other and he upheld himself as some kind of benevolent winner. It was awful. I felt sick. I wanted to scream to the entire world "DON'T LUMP ALL OF US XIANS INTO HAM'S CREATION THEORY!"
I have young earth creationist friends and if they choose to believe that, fine! But when Ham derides other Christians for believing differently, it certainly doesn't feel like the belonging or welcoming is reciprocated. That hurt the most: the Xian declared who was a true believer and who wasn't. Believe me, I wasn't at all charitable in my thoughts as I listened to his arrogance and condemnation.
"Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Succcess, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.
Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture not force. Let's dress ourselves in gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of God among us." ("Dressed in Gentleness", Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom & Faith, February 07).
Did you ever have times when you were passionately FOR something, but at the end of the day you realized: "This means squat"?
Hanging my head, I realized that with all that's going on in our world today I had wasted a great evening on pointless arguing and bickering. I'll never change the minds of Ham's followers and they probably won't change mine. But guaranteed we both want acceptance from one another. Why was it that I didn't hold on to that while I was watching it all?
Right now millions of souls are displaced in Syria, violence is rampant in the CAR, a good friend of mine is trying his hardest to create community with gun-toting gang youth (and feeling really discouraged over it), there are allegations of Inuit parents selling their children into prostitution way up north, and…
… the world hasn't stopped. The debate was a sham. A sincere waste of time. And I wasted my own time over it. More to the point, in my own insecurity over whether or not people accepted me or plunked me in as a Ham follower, I wasn't gentle — not others, not to myself and not towards God. I was more hurt that Ham would dare proclaim that I wasn't the right kind of Christian (because all right doctrine apparently flows from Genesis 1-2).
Anyone disagreeing with Ham was put under the false action of persecuting the North American church. In your travels, I'm sure you've seen actual persecution of Christians. Here in North America, all someone has to do is disagree with the Xian Establishment and someone is screaming "Persecuted!"
But you suggest that gentleness is the path to take.
Not right answers.
Not who's in and who's out.
Not even whether or not we're actually being persecuted.
The world needs a gentle touch.
A gentle word (true gentle words; not ideology spoken in gentle tones).
A gentle mind.
A gentle heart.
A gentle spirit.
We're all bruised reeds in one way or another. Jesus promised not to break those reeds or snuff out struggling wicks. I don't know why I didn't pick up on His example this week, but you know what they say about hindsight…
Ham will say what Ham will say (bringing the "Ham-mer" down as it were. See what I did there?). Nye will say what Nye will say. It doesn't change the plights of Syrian refugees or the number of people in my own town who can't afford monthly rent.
What shall I choose?
Yes, we all come to places where Jesus ignites a passion within us for… "——–" (insert anything here). We want that passion affirmed, lit, and brought to life. We want people to accept it, if not join it. When it gets bruised a little, or beaten down, or is flat-out rejected by people who claim to love, we…
…well, we lash out.
And then we face our own humiliation over the waste of it all.
So pride be banished, but not at the expense of holy passion. But how?
Sneering be dissolved, but not at the expense of holy indignation. But how?
Divisions be healed, but not at the expense of… where's the expense here? I cannot find it.
The world needs gentle people. Teach me, Jesus, to be just so.
Until next time, Henri.