Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who are You? Dance Remix

Maintaining this identity theme I've been chewing on, I wonder about the self, or how we behave, in certain groups. I think of all the times I flitted from one Christian group to another, making the necessary adjustments along the way, attempting to assimilate.

In other words, in the simplest terms, that most Christians can agree with, I am a Christian.

However. We Christians can be like a world of middle school girls: clique-alicious.

I have theologically conservative Christian friends and theologically liberal Christian friends. Unsurprisingly, these folks tend to be polar on politics as well. I know moderately knowledgeable Christians and incredibly academic Christians. I know Calvinists, Anabaptists, Catholics and some others whose names I forget. I move among the groups that denounce gays and lesbians, and I move about the devout gays and lesbians. I have Christian friends who are all about the love. I have others who are all about the law. Some of my Christian friends have the wisdom of the ages, and others have this gorgeous simplicity that astounds me.

There are times I'm in groups where I must bite my tongue to the point of bleeding in order to maintain a modicum of decorum and peace. There are other times when I'm popping off like Papa Bear O'Reilly, loose and loud with the opinions.

So. You see where I'm going. How does a woman, finding her identity in Jesus and full of passion, talents, gifts and questions navigate her way through these crowds, crowds of alleged "sameness," and still remain herself? And by "herself," I mean the "she" God made and mandated. The "she" God crafted with his intense attention to detail, with all her conflicting humanity boiling over inside.

And the larger question would be, how do we, as believers, navigate "the other?" The challenge is to be a group of believers willing to explore, to expand, and to find the smallest common denominator and work from there. Moreover, how do we love "the other" in the mess, in the polarization of politics, in the heat of theological debate? Do we honor the uniqueness of God in our treatment of "the other?"

Again: I don't know. Do you?


  1. Jen,

    As you know I tend more toward the liberal theology side of things. I am unapologetic about my convictions but at the same time remember the biblical exhortation to do everything with love. My first instinct is to be honest about who I am - afterall we are not meant to hide our light under anyone else's basket. Having said that I realize there are times and places for everything and so although I will not compromise my deeply held convictions there are times I will not speak out loudly either. I draw the line however, when some person or group of people are being maligned, or disparaged. I cannot tolerate anyone marginalizing others in the name of a loving and compassionate God.

    For me it has been a journey of self discovery and growing comfortable and sure with who I found. I also realize that I am ever evolving and that as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser - I will be more attuned to the gentle voice of God. I have learned that hitting people over the head with my opinion will not change theirs and also that sometimes my deepest sin comes from the judging I do in my heart against those who don't agree with me. I am a work in progress and I'm okay with that.

    It's too tiring to try and be all things to all people...and I have found that once people know who I am they still love me because at the core I am the same Beth, the beloved disciple of Christ.

  2. What Beth said. (aka cop-out comment.)

    But seriously, as I moved from a conservative community to a more liberal one and discovered on Twitter that I agreed with the liberal folks more than the conservatives...it's a journey. Spent last Easter with a dear friend (and her family and another family) who said, "well, our neighbor is such a liberal, I can't believe how nice he is." And I sat there, with my Obama sticker slapped on my car, saying nothing, because for that moment, it was the loving thing to do.

  3. (If I may comment here Jen, this is really a great though you have going.) I think I reside between both the liberal and conservative scopes, which is really odd since I am the pastor of a Southern Baptist church. But, I think the real point here has got to come down to this: If we constantly turn our backs on those who don't look like us, dress like us, act like us, think like us, etc., ... then who will be left?

    Standards must remain (biblical truth shall not be replaced by feel good theology - at least not in my pulpit - smile); but at some point there has to be acceptance of who a person is, and GRACE must be applied to their life so that (big application here) they may see the TRUE love of Christ demonstrated. Not religion - but honest love that expresses genuine concern for their lives.