This isn’t about people being for or against something. It’s not a lumping together of people and tossing them into a group that gets dismissed or ridiculed. I’m so tired of that approach. Aren’t we all? This is about a specific response, presented with harshness. It could be applied to a wide variety of topics, but it primarily speaks to Christians. Let’s get to it.
I have several friends who are surprised and exasperated with others who declare, “Well, I don’t fear God like you do. Just because you don’t trust him enough and blindly follow what people are telling you doesn’t mean you should push your fear onto me.” Even without the specific words, the tone is there. People are confused and hurt and irritated. Multiple friends have asked me, “What do you say when people claim their choice to not get the vaccine is because they don’t fear God and assume those who get the vaccine are wrongly scared of something and less faithful?”
Again, I’m not posting because of a pro or con side of an issue. This is more about an attitude than an issue. By now, I’ve heard the frustration from enough friends who have had similar encounters that I can say it isn’t everyone’s response, but it is enough to take notice and consider how to respond.
When faced with this question, I admit I don’t always engage. It’s important to be discerning. Just because someone is pointing a finger and accusing others of fear, faithlessness, stupidity, or whatever, it doesn’t mean we have to take on that accusation. We also don’t have to retaliate. We don’t have to engage. Sometimes, we should, but we should always do so with respect, patience, and wisdom. I find the more defensive someone is, the more uncertain they actually are. Oh, they might seem so determined that they’re stuck, but it doesn’t mean they’ve actually worked through the process. For most people who work through the process, there is at least some ambivalence, because there’s a struggle to understand pieces that rub against or contradict each other. Harshness often reveals arrogance, and there’s often little you can do to reveal someone’s arrogance to them. With arrogance comes stubbornness and judgment.
There’s a part of me that wants to be a bit sassy. But I usually refrain, because I recognize the fear/trust God debate really isn’t what people claim it is.
We all let arrogance take root and rationalize making decisions based on one characteristic while belying the same characteristic in another area. We all have inconsistencies. Being able to see them is humbling. Refusing to see them is arrogant.
One of those qualities reflects a healthy, authentic faith. The other does not.
I’m not saying anyone who claims a certain side of an argument is faithful or not. That’s exactly what I’m trying to call out. What I’m saying is this: we are all arrogant at times. We also sound as if we are certain about something when we are actually being naive and unwise. This goes deeper than a single issue. Instead of letting the issue divide and frustrate us, what if we let it reveal the truth in and about us? What if we didn’t try to take a side and spew from it? I’ve found that most of the time, when God is calling us to stand for him, it’s not about an issue as much as it’s about character. We like faith to be about an issue, because it’s easier. We stand on one side or the other, and claim we’re on the right side. We’re for God, and anyone who chooses the other side isn’t. But how we stand for God speaks louder than what we say as we stand. Unless we’re willing to stand in his presence and humbly follow him, our claims are doing more damage than they’re worth. We’re shaking our finger at others’ faith instead of reaching out. We’re spewing instead of engaging. We’re trying to write the narrative instead of becoming part of God’s. Let’s be better. Every single one of us.