It seems that everyone in the world is consumed with idea of “being right.” If you doubt me, just go look at Facebook, Twitter or your favorite flavor of cable news. Everyone is right and talking over each other.
Sure, there is still a difference between right and wrong, but we even argue about that.
The problem with “being right” and seeing yourself as the only enlightened person in the room, social media or dinner table is this: we feel justified to treat those who are “wrong” with contempt.
It fascinates me (and saddens me) to see people treat others so badly just because they are “wrong.” There is something lodged down deep in our hearts that tell us that “being right” is the highest ideal above anything else including love. It stands to reason if we are right, the other person is wrong. If the other person is wrong, we are within our rights to treat them terribly because they are bad people too. Most likely, that person feels the same about you and will engage in the same behavior. It is a lose/lose situation.
Now if a person is not a Christian, they can do whatever they want as long as it is lawful. There is a lack of civil discourse right now but I do not believe that I have the right to impose my values on someone who does not believe in the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Love. In other words, I am addressing the Christian community, not society at large. Besides, I would be pretty arrogant to think that I have sway over that many people including those who do not believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Within the Christian community (the Church) we too have succumbed to the theology of “being right” and the associated bad behavior that comes out of this mindset.
Let me be as clear as I can. We still need to be vocal about behaviors and actions that hurt others: sexism, racism, ageism and discrimination of any kind. We also should be vocal when “the system” oppresses “the least of these.” When it is within our power to do so, we should work to educate and change the things that are repressive. A firm “no” is appropriate when dealing with these types of issues.
However, just because we might be right occasionally (don’t fool yourself thinking you have cornered the market on truth 100% of the time) that does not give the Christian license to treat other people with contempt and scorn. Demonizing other people does not solve problems. That does not mean you must agree with the other person either.
When St. Paul talked about the 3 most important characteristics of being a Christian, guess what did not make the list? That’s correct, “being right” doesn’t crack the top 3.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1Corinthians 13:13
Love is the highest ideal. That is a huge declaration for Paul who is an intellectual. Even he sees that love is more important than intellect or even faith. Wow.
No one is advocating for conflict avoidance and sugar coating everything. We can disagree and be agreeable. When that is not possible, we do not need to lash out with name calling and angry rhetoric. Giving ourselves space from someone we disagree with is preferable to “burning relational bridges.”
Gracious God, help us to follow you and you alone. We are reminded in scripture that having divided loyalties is unhealthy. Come to our aid once again and hold us closely. Let love drive our interactions with others and let our thirst for justice keep us moving forward. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
God bless you,