Thursday, May 26, 2011

What motivates your faith?

I have been noticing that more and more, anger seems to be the emotion that is motivating our society and our individual lives.  As a result, we are becoming more and more polarized as a society and as a church.  Having just preached a sermon about not compromising on our faith, my guess is that some folks are using my words as a reason to strengthen their position regarding their beliefs.  But is that is what is meant by not compromising our faith?

Life seems to have become black and white.  Things all seem to be good or bad, right or wrong.  Shades of gray have faded to white or darkened to black.  Political pundits demonize their opposition.  People search for something wrong with others instead of something right.  It is almost as if people want to fight and want to be angry. 

Freedom of speech seems only to be tolerated when the person speaking agrees with me.  When I was in seminary, I had a few instructors that challenged me because they seemed convinced of positions that I do not hold.  Instead of getting angry and saying they were wrong as many others in my classes did, I chose to research for myself.  So I have learned to appreciate persons who think differently than I do because it is an opportunity to revisit a subject and make up my own mind.

Just listen to the television or the radio.  The words the reporters, commentators, and talk show hosts use are meant to incite, to polarize, or to put a “spin” on the subject matter.  There is little or no balance.  The whole story is rarely portrayed.  And sensationalism rules the day.  It is as if they are trying to create anger that will push people to action.  It as if they are trying to tell you want to believe instead of giving you facts on which to decide what you believe.

Polarizing people and inciting anger, seem like backward strategies to me.  Instead of anger, I am thinking more along the lines of Jesus’ commandment to love God with our whole being and love our neighbor.  Yes, instead of anger, what if love motivated us.  What if thinking like Jesus motivated us?

Jesus sought out the marginalized.  He associated with lepers, Gentiles and yes, even sinners.  He turned the rules of society upside down.  And when he did all those things, he was not trying to create anger, but he did.  The anger was about change; it was about unfulfilled expectations; it was about not having it my way.  The people did not want to compromise their faith.  But what was their faith in?  It was in the established ways of doing things, their own understandings, and in what they wanted for themselves.  Their faith was not in Christ.  So, to say we should not compromise our faith is to say that we should not compromise Christ.

Ask yourself what would Jesus have me do in any given situation?  That is what I think God wants of us and one of the reasons Jesus was incarnate in the first place.  Ask yourself if you have considered both sides of any given situation?  Jesus certainly did and that is why he made so many decisions contrary to society or individual desires.

Perhaps it is time for us to think for ourselves.  Perhaps it is time to read or research to discover both sides of an issue before we let some other influential person make up our minds for us.  Perhaps it is time to pray for discernment before we go off half cocked and angry.  Perhaps things would be better if we just tried to act in love.

Blessings for the journey –

1 comment:

  1. I whole heartely agree on your comments about taking the "time to read or research to discover..." the situation, the comment and yourself. Making comments or important decisions out of emotions can get you in trouble. Taking the time to take a deep breath, slow down and asking God to intervene is something that has worked for me. I like your self question about "what would God have me do in this situation." I've also tried this in tough times and stopped and LISTENED for His prescription. Another good question to ask yourself is "who gets the glory." (I am stealing that one from Pat!) It's a good question and so is the answer if you really want to be honest with yourself! Lastly, I am with you -- what if we did more things out of love.