Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pillars and Pariahs

It's been said that two wrongs don't make a right.  I fully agree.  But I also think that two rights don't necessarily make a right either.  In fact, they may make a worse wrong than the two wrongs ever did.  For an example of this idea on a national level (using the US as an example), just read the following link at the Huffington Post:
A Parable: Is it Always Right to Be Right?

The church is riddled with people who firmly believe they are right, no matter what side of an issue they are on.  Right about birth control. Right about abortion. Right about same-sex relationships. Right about this doctrine or that doctrine (don't get me started). Right about what constitutes holiness. Right about level of church involvement / ministry.  Right even about global issues like war, environmental stewardship, or social justice.  Pick a topic and you'll find at least three opinions on it ... and each proponent will say that his or her opinion on that topic is the right one.  

Source (via Google Images):
The problem with being right - is that everyone else's opinion is (by definition) wrong.  And by being seen as wrong, or not-right, these ones are automatically judged, shunned, left out in the cold.  

I'm not saying that there aren't absolute truths.  I'm saying that people can major on minors so easily.  People can become self-righteous Pharisees without realizing it.  I was ... for decades.  I judged those who didn't agree with my particular brand of religious behavior (I won't call it Christianity because I used to call it that - and it so wasn't).  

The "I'm right and you're wrong" mentality results in two classes of people: pillars and pariahs.  Heroes and villains.  I know people who consider themselves to be pillars of their church - who treat others who don't share their narrow viewpoint like pariahs.  Pillars  consider it perfectly right and proper (even their God-given right) to call the ones they've deemed as pariahs down to the lowest.  Why?  because of (their interpretation of) Paul's reference to Christians being seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6) - their idea is that since the only place to sit is in the throne with Him, they are - even now - sitting in the seat of judgment and therefore have the right to judge others.  How twisted is that??  

God is delivering me from the pillar-of-the-church mindset.  He's putting me in situations where I must accept others for who they are and what they believe, even if it differs from me or my beliefs.  You see, I felt threatened by anyone who disagreed with my beliefs. I felt attacked if they didn't share them.  And God is bringing me to the place where I can accept not only myself for who I am, but also them for who they are.  I am learning that they have a right to be who they are, to believe as they do, and that it's not my business or my job to make them look like perfect little replicas of me.  (Yikes - that would be scary!!)  My responsibility is to look after my own side of the street, to keep my eyes on my own relationship with God and not to interfere with theirs, to accept all people - no matter if they're spotted or striped, purple or green, liturgical or fundamentalist, whatever.  

I've been a pillar.  I've been a pariah.  Having experienced both, I can say that neither is a good place to be.  Once I experienced what it was like to be accepted for who I am, it freed me to grant others the same courtesy.  Instead of a pillar or a pariah, I became a real person.  And I started seeing others as real people too.

I much prefer being a person. 

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