According To You

Yesterday I found myself the unwitting witness of an attempt by someone to justify not behaving in a loving and Christian fashion towards someone he considered to be a horrible sinner.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, and perhaps you have been involved in a situation where either you or another party tried to justify not treating someone else with respect or consideration because of some ground or another.  I happened not to know either of the parties in the dispute or the facts of the matter, which puzzled me as to why I was included in a group which consisted of someone berating someone else as a totally unchristian person for using the r-word and showing ablism accordingly, and then insulting the church I happen to attend for being willing to accept the fellowship of someone who used the r-word.  I don’t know whether or not such language was used, although I must admit that this sort of language tends to be quite common when one is frustrated.

Digression:  It should be noted that most of the language that we use when frustrated probably does not put us in the best light.  When we are unhappy about a situation we tend, quite naturally, to speak negatively about it, and what negative words we use will often be slurs to someone else.  That which we view in a negative light will be viewed negatively by those who happen to be a part of the group that is being referred to negatively.  So it is that a man who is evidently slow on the uptake would be upset about hearing the r-word used by someone in a frustrated fashion.

My reply to the comment that the church I attend is to be faulted for eating and fellowshipping with someone who may have been less than entirely polite or loving in his use of language was to quite a very appropriate scripture:  “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  This scripture, Matthew 9:11, is part of the context of the frustration that the Pharisees had with the behavior of Jesus, which was corrected by Christ in pointing out that no matter how the righteous behave, they will be questioned by the self-righteous.  This reply rather predictably received a thumbs down and I was removed from the group as I was obviously not a sympathetic observer to the whining and complaining of the person.  It is clear that the person who formed the group expected people to endorse what he had to say, not quite scripture that dealt more or less exactly with the sort of behavior he addressing.  It is quite possible, though, that the person he was upset with would have also been offended for being considered a “sinner” just as the person who formed the group was offended for being called a “Pharisee.”   It is simply that the person being complained about had no ability to defend himself or explain his side of story to the people who were being spoken to, nor was he aware that he was being doxed by someone who wanted a receptive audience to his rebukes but was unwilling at accepting rebuke.

While the specifics of this case are certainly different than is often the case, the sort of situation involved is one that is all too painfully common.  Two people have some sort of disagreement, each of them believes themselves in the right and the other to be in the wrong, and unable to communicate their perspective to the other, they seek support so that they can coerce the other person involved and force them to see things the right way or suffer sanctions of some kind.  Admittedly, people do not tend to like to be put in this spot because they likely to see some element of wrong in all parties involved and do not wish to especially offend any one of the parties by pointing out the extent to which one party is in the wrong.  Sometimes they are able to handle it graciously and indirectly and at other times they have to be more blunt and direct about it.  In general, though, the ministry of reconciliation [1] is a difficult one because often we do not want to reconcile with others but rather be vindicated as having been right.  It is our own pride and lack of awareness of how we have hurt and offended others while being very aware of how we have been offended that makes it hard to be at peace with others.

Justice is hard because there are basic biases and asymmetries that are inherent in the way that we deal with the world.  We at least have the potential for a great deal of knowledge about how we feel and think about what happens to us, but we do not know the interior life of others except to the extent that they make it visible to us through their behavior and communication.  When one adds to that our understandable tendency to slant our perspective to our own interests and perspective, we are almost always unjust to those who oppose us even when we attempt to sincerely be just to them, and we do not often enough sincerely desire to be just.  The only reasonable way that we can have to counteract this is to be and to show a great willingness to understand where others are coming from and be humble about our own causes and our own perspectives.  But humility is hard when we think ourselves to be righteous people capable of judging others.  And most of us feel that way at least sometimes.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s