Monday, August 29, 2016

Striving for Both/And in an Either/Or World

It has been like this forever – as there is nothing new under the sun – but we currently live in polarizing times. We are pitted against each other. We are expected to take sides. One group must be right and the other must be wrong. Red vs. blue. Gay vs. straight. Black vs. cop. It is an either/or way of thinking about the world.

But what if it could be BOTH/AND instead? What if you could BOTH hold your Christian identity with strength and assurance AND honor, respect, and learn from people of other faith traditions? What if you could BOTH support a political candidate AND acknowledge that the opposing candidate maybe-just-maybe isn’t the anti-Christ? What if you could BOTH question the morality of homosexuality AND love our LGBT brothers and sisters through welcoming them into our churches and supporting their equal rights under the law?

What if saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ came with the undergirded assumption that, of course, All Lives Matter? What if BOTH Black Lives Matter AND Blue Lives Matter?

It is possible to BOTH love and support our police officers who daily risk their lives for our safety AND to recognize that there are some systemic racial problems in our country that have led to much discrimination and way too much lethal force of late. The danger of labels like “black” and “blue” is that we can so easily forget that REAL people are ACTUALLY being made black and blue. People are getting hurt and killed as we resort to violence instead of peaceful, creative solutions that might bring about real, actual, substantive change.

The gospel of Jesus is all about breaking down barriers of separation. Jesus, in everything he does and says, is eradicating an either/or, us vs. them, hate-the-enemy sort of worldview. And we are called to do the same. Let’s commit to not demonizing our opponent. Let’s commit to putting aside the false-binaries that our world teaches us exist. Let’s commit to listening to all people, even and especially when we know we will disagree. Let’s commit to the Jesus-centered spirit of hospitality, generosity, and love that we see laced throughout the pages of Scripture. Let’s commit to being BOTH/AND people, rather than EITHER/OR.

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