Over the past few years, I’ve grown to dislike the phrase ”let’s keep the main thing the main thing.”
I guess mainly because of the way the phrase was used: mainly to shut down discourse of full inclusion of our LGBTQ+ siblings.
Let’s keep the main thing the main thing only favors the ones who are in power. Keeping the main thing the main thing only benefits those who are benefiting from the status quo.
Because you don’t hear the marginalized people using that phrase.
It’s always people who have power and/or benefit from the way things are.
It’ll be more honest (at least in the conversation re: our LGBTQ siblings) to say, We don’t think anything is broken so why do you keep pestering about changing things? Let’s just focus on the main thing.
The real question is: what is the main thing of the main thing we should be keeping — especially in the context of the church?
Probably: God. Being faithful disciples.
Something along that lines.
So let’s take a quick moment to talk about it — or I guess more, let me write about it.
What is the main thing when it comes to being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?
We can argue and nitpick and what not… but perhaps the main thing we need to uphold is the Greatest Commandment, which is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and part B: Love your neighbor as yourself.
And it’s a worthy argument to make that the main thing we should be keeping as the main thing is the Greatest Commandment because Jesus says, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The main thing, then, could (should?) be: Love God and love my neighbor.
Ah. Here’s the rub. Here’s what we want to know.
Who is my neighbor?
Or perhaps, the real question behind the question is: what’s the least amount of loving I can do and still be considered saved? I mean, surely there’s a limit to how much I’m called to love.
So where’s that line? I’ll just go right near it, linger there and anyone who tells me to cross it, I’ll tell them “I’m keeping the main thing, the main thing.”
Thankfully, last Sunday’s Lectionary Reading was about the Good Samaritan.
Modern hearers of this story miss out on the absolute scandal and shock and risk this story brought.
Samaritans and Israelites did not get along (which is an understatement).
They both believed that their way was the right way and the other was dead wrong.
Jesus made the enemy the hero of his story.
What would be the modern equivalent?
Perhaps Jesus addressing a crowd of White Supremacists and making a black teenager the hero?
Maybe telling this story to Extreme Liberal Leftists and making a MAGA Supporter the hero?
I mean, Jesus risked losing his audience by making a Samaritan (and not the Levite nor priest) the hero of his parable.
In your world — who is the last person you’d ever want help from? Who’s the last person in your known universe you’d want to call “a good person?” That person(s) would be the one who Jesus calls you to love.
Debie Thomas brought up a great point: in the Good Samaritan story — not many of us identify with the person beaten and left for dead — the only character that had no identity.
She mentions that maybe this is where we need to start out: seeing ourselves not as the priest, Levite nor the Samaritan — but the wounded man left for dead, just grateful that someone, anyone showed up to help.
“Because all tribalisms fall away on the broken road.”
In times of real need, the us vs them disappear.
Think about the days following Harvey in 2017. People helped people. No one stopped and asked who you were affiliated with before lifting you onto their boat.
(Those kinds of questions followed weeks after when certain Christian communities came and would only allow you to help if you signed their statement/declaration of faith and alluded to the fact they’d hope those who they help will agree to their statement of faith.)
As human beings navigating in this world — we will all come to a moment where we seek help and it won’t matter who comes to help but that someone helped.
Who is my neighbor?
“Your neighbor is the one who scandalizes you with compassion, Jesus answered. Your neighbor is the one who upends all the entrenched categories and shocks you with a fresh face of God. Your neighbor is the one who mercifully steps over the ancient, bloodied line separating “us” from “them,” and teaches you the real meaning of “Good.”
What shall I do to inherit eternal life? Do this. Do this and you will live.” (Debie Thomas).
This is the main thing we should be keeping as the main thing.
(Please ignore the grammatical errors)