The other day I was on a walk around the farm and turned the corner to see the fence down for the sheep. Our neighbors have sheep and we let them graze on our property. We are kind of like grandparents to the sheep. We get to enjoy them without all of the responsibility. When I saw the fence was knocked down, I looked over to see the sheep grazing in our neighbor's side yard. Since our neighbors were both gone, I called my son and we took on the task of getting them back inside the fence.
I've been thinking about the sheep outside of the fence for a couple of days.
We wander outside of the Kingdom when we are arrogant, judgmental, sarcastic, and condescending toward others we don't agree with. Whether our opinions are to the right or to the left, if we respond in these ways we are outside the fence. We may genuinely want others to see the ways in which we believe they are living outside of the Kingdom, but when we do it in a way that drips with arrogance, judgment, sarcasm, and condescension we're outside of the Kingdom.
The world does indeed watch how Christians treat non-Christians who don't think the way we do. I don't think the world cares as much about how we treat each other, though. I think it's a turn off, but I think if we validate and agree with them on various topics, we are in. If we don't validate and agree with them, we are out. However, God really cares about how we treat each other as Christians.
Watching this kind of drama unfold on social media is like being back in high school. It's like watching the movie Mean Girls. I've never watched the movie in it's entirety, I had no desire after seeing some of the clips. I am not going to pay to subject myself to two hours of reliving high school and call it entertainment. But really, the kind of come backs I've been seeing on social media from both sides trying to prove a point are full of high school and everything, but love.
These comments and behavior are not only from the "conservative evangelical pharisees" or the "progressives who will burn in hell", it's from both. It just so happens that there are a bunch of us outside the fence way over on the right and there are a bunch of us outside the fence way over on the left. We are flipping each other off with our cutting words. And I can't imagine Jesus treating anyone the way we are treating each other.
I've always told my kids that if they could learn to love each other well and get along with their siblings, then they will be able to do that with just about anybody, because loving and getting along with family is the hardest. But we work at it because we are family.
Our pastor Louie says, "It's a terrible thing to be right, only."
The back of the farm is where I go for most of my therapy sessions. You know, the times when I am not actually meeting with my therapist or spiritual director. Yeah, that's where I am. I need both. And I am totally good with that. But when I am not meeting with them, I am on the back of the farm. A lot. It's where I go to sort things out. To cry, to yell in anger, to dance in rejoicing. The other day on the back of the farm, I was weeping about all of these hard topics that we as Christians aren't getting along well about. Out of my weeping heart came this plea:
God, what if I'm wrong? Am I wrong? All of these different voices from really smart people who have researched and studied, who have PhDs, and ooze intelligence, don't agree. People with really good hearts who want to follow your ways and love you and love their neighbor and have prayed diligently, don't agree. I am going to keep walking down this path of my beliefs, theology, and doctrine with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart to you. If I am wrong, God, I beg you to make it clear. And while I journey help me to love those I don't agree with. Help me not to take a stance of arrogance, judgment, sarcasm, and condescension because I really want to so bad sometimes. I am sorry, forgive me. Amen.