Greetings to you from the foreign country known as Te-Xas.
I joked on twitter yesterday that I felt like a foreigner walking to my destination here in Dallas. And for being Asian. Though, currently at this Starbucks, there are a lot more Asians here (and Koreans at that; and fobby Koreans at that! — where the heck am I?) than any other ethnicity.
On the way to this Asian invaded Starbucks, I was flipping around the radio station presets of my father in-law's car, when I came across a preacher sharing his thoughts. This pastor was touching on all the controversial topics from gay marriage to sexuality to Hobby Lobby to Obamacare in a 6 minute segment.
Of course, his POV ended up being God's POV on these matters.
I didn't mind what this pastor was saying. I heard it all before. What bothered me was how adamant he was that his thoughts were not only aligned with God's, but that these were God's thoughts as well.
Therefore, if I did not agree with him, I was going against God.
I didn't (don't) agree with him. And I don't find myself going against God.
The issues of sexuality is simply not black and white. The Bible is far more complex than we like them to be. As uncomfortable as it may make us, our world is more complex than black and white thinking and is full of gray.
I know I'm guilty of this too, but it's amazing how we try to make God/faith/religion/Christianity a one-size-fits-all thing. It's not. It's next to impossible, for we all bring our own lens; baggage; worldview; into how we approach God and the Bible. Yes, we're all made in the image of God, but everyone one of us has somewhat made God into our own image also.
That's why God's a Redskins fan (but not a fan of the franchise's name). That's why I believe God to disdain the Lakers. God views the Yankees the way he views any empire: unholy.
But the real tragedy is that we don't give room for (loving) debates and discussions. Discussions about the differences of theologies ends up devolving to a my-way-or-the-highway conversation. We're flustered and frustrated that our (seemingly) one-size-fits-all theology doesn't fit them. So, we conclude that it doesn't fit them because they're wrong. And we'll condescendingly tell them that we'll pray for them so that they'll be enlightened like us.
What happens, then, is that Christianity becomes primarily about what we know and what we believe. We're more concerned with right thinking — or everyone thinking like me. There's no room for differences, because we are right.
But as Paul tells us, knowledge puffs up.
And that's one of the tragedies with American Christianity. We're too puffed up on what we think we know and we find ourselves more of a bully than a servant to those who don't know as much as we do or think differently than we would like.
But knowing is easy. Believing is easy.
If I told you I believe in ghosts, so what? I know the starting 11 defense for the '94 49ers. So what? How's can that be redeeming or serve a greater cost? (Unless I find myself on a game show and the million dollar question is “Name the starting 11 of the 49ers '94 championship team.”)
And believing you're right is even easier.
We're too concerned about what we know and not concerned enough about what we do.
Jesus instructions after the Good Samaritan story was “go and do likewise.”
James instructs us to “not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (not argue over what it says until everyone hates each other).
(He also instructs us that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry — something we don't do very well).
I think it's Shane Claiborne who wrote that we should be more concerned with right living than right thinking.
In the end, I believe God to be less concerned with what we know and more concerned with how we lived. After all, the story Jesus told in Matthew 25, the King did not ask the sheep and goat what they believed; what issues did they picketed or stood up for; how many bible verses they memorized. Rather, the King judged them on what they did (or did not do).
It's okay if you and I don't agree on theology or interpret the Bible the same way. It's okay if we find ourselves on the opposite side of certain issues. God is bigger than our one-size-fits-all thinking.
But God's love, I believe, is a one-size-fits-all type of love that is available for anyone and everyone. And the way we embody God's love, grace, and hope through our actions — that can reach the heart of anyone. For no one can really debate with acts done in and through unconditional and sacrificial love.
But that has less to do with what we know and believe and more about what we do and how we live and love. After all, that well known song says they will know we are Christians by our love — not by what we know.
So, less talk. Less arguing. Less of “this is what God says!” And more grace. More justice. More mercy. More love. More walking humbly with God. And may it begin with me.