• M. J. Chrisman

Fence Traveler (pt. 2) 'Other' or 'One Another'?

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Graffiti on wall saying "Together, We Create!"

Ever been in a situation where you had to defend your beliefs to someone, whether it was a political, spiritual, or social position? Perhaps during a family dinner or over drinks with friends?

It can get frustrating and messy, and yet, it’s through these sorts of conversations that we grow.

Like iron sharpens iron. But maybe that saying doesn’t have to mean we have to be the exact “same” to learn from one another. My hope, fellow fence traveler, is that we learn to see everyone as “iron”—as someone made in the image of Christ, someone who’s spiritual values and opinions can offer a different perspective.

And that’s OK.

When we come to Christ’s table—where there are sinners, sojourners, and castaways alike—we begin to taste, see, and experience his fierce love for humanity and for the world. [Tweet This]

A love that draws all people to himself.

In Brian McLaren’s book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?, he encapsulates much of what I hope to achieve with this Fence Traveler Blog. He writes:

When we increasingly understand who we are in relation to an enemy—whether that enemy is legitimate, innocent, or imaginary—we develop an increasingly hostile identity. Such an identity teaches us to see sameness as safety and otherness as danger. It is characterized by duality: us and them, right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness. It promotes a mentality of us versus them, us apart from them, us instead of them, us without them, us over them, us using them, us in spite of them, us oppressed by them, or us occupying them, but never us for them or us with them (pp. 62-63).

What McLaren is describing is a posture of the heart. How do we automatically fill in the blank regarding other people's positions? Do we simply default to one side of "the fence" rather than pursue a third way? Do we just assume they are the "other" we must fight against... or could they somehow be part of the "one another" solution in making societal changes?

Simply put, I wouldn’t cherish my beliefs and worldviews if I didn’t truly believe them; however, I only come to cherish my beliefs by their refinement, the process of molding and reshaping over time. Refinement of our values and ideas can only happen if there is friction and tension from other, maybe even opposing, values and ideas. But if we flip the script and approach arguments regarding faith, politics, and social justice from the standpoint of "us for them" instead of "use against them," perhaps we can truly create together. [Tweet This]

When we refuse to come to Christ’s table and grapple with these issues of life, we miss out on his grace for the present—for each other. There it is, the linchpin to it all: grace. It’s what holds the universe together, what Christ’s death was all about.

And grace is what we are meant to extend to one another.

#Creating #Spiritual #SocialJustice #FenceTraveler #Politics #Debating #Otherizing

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