Dunno about you but when I was a kid I got tired -real fast- of my parents, teachers and “adults” telling me how my/our wanting “acceptance” would often put us into harm’s way. You know, “You just want to be accepted to the extent you’ll mess up your life [negative results… always] by hanging around THOSE people!” Ever heard anything like that?
So with regularity my best friends were “those” people. Yep.
And in fact I did indeed learn to cuss, have sex, do petty theft, break-and-enter, use people and split when I no longer got “my way” with them, became an addict to drink and drugs and essentially wrecked my life and “shared the wealth” with others.
But all of this is nearly besides the point. Really? Yeah, and here is why:
I have often found myself really appreciating, respecting, even loving people who if in the same band, day job, bike club or church would fight and maybe even kill one another- at core because they are convinced the “other/s” need to accept them, their views and further, help others “see it my way” as well as help finance that “way”.
The term “acceptance” is often a core one… and then comes another: “affirmation”. WHO honestly doesn’t care about being affirmed, agreed with, yes “accepted” and even advocated for in whatever their position on X, Y or Z is?
LGBTQ, NRA, GOP, DNC, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, atheists and mythologists, death metal fans, blues junkies, bluegrass lovers, it just keeps on going regardless of your beliefs, situation and/or vision. We want acceptance and not only that, endorsement of ourselves as well as our stance/s on whatever it may be.
True or not?
I’ve friends across so many divides -and a few enemies as well due to (ready??) often maintaining respectful relationships with people on -both- ends of the particular spectrum! The tendency for some every so often (and I really do get it) is to look at me like I’m crazy “for having anything to do with THOSE PEOPLE” when in fact I often recognize value in them both, disagree with elements of both views and in general don’t kiss up to extremism in either of them.
Over my years and miles around the planet I’ve been invited into or stumbled onto disputes between parties within ministries and local churches as well as denominations where after really trying to hear and read and dig through the issues found me thinking that a third word is in play: competition.
If I as a person am demanding acceptance, affirmation, perhaps even advocates for my cause (whatever that may be) and then even amongst those who mostly agree with me begin to compete with them for people, finances and positive help/publicity and etc., and if for any reason (time, money, energy, they have other “front burner” vision and pursuits, “other fish to fry”) judge them, get my feelings hurt or maybe even begin to trash-talk about them whenever I think I can get someone to listen and agree with the horrid injustice… well you can bet this is part of what is going on in our world at the moment.
This has been going on as long as humans have been on earth. It is simply the fact most of us now have cheap or free world-wide megaphones via the web, social media and a press who makes a living and other media (no matter the political persuasion, balance or lack thereof) who focus on analytics, demographics and ratings to further their cau$e. Now hear me: I am NOT for “big brother” controlling the internet, not even! I am also not even close to the view all media nor every blog, tweet or re-post is merely propaganda, holds nothing but uneducated bias or snake-in-the-grass trolling. I also think all politicians are quite capable of playing this game with nothing but -their- gain as motive. I get all that. I’d MUCH rather see and hear free web and free press any day regardless of the fallout because I think the fallout is historically greater without them.
The question for each of us, myself included is- what are our true motives? When personal acceptance, affirmation, financial and other support is the currency in your life or mine, tell me again how pure, righteous and non-judgmental our own motives are?
In terms of ethics: are you requiring me to exchange my own personal integrity to “take sides” with you… or might I now be judged your “enemy who must be destroyed” if I don’t agree with your stance on whatever it may be?
Is tacit agreement the price of honest, respectful, loving relationship between people? If I hold you to that very rubric, does that mean in my mind YOU are now an enemy I need to discredit and eliminate because “winning” is more important than (wait for it Christians…) “grace”? UNmerited favor. UNearned mercy.
Paul writes a letter to Christians and includes a “matter-of-fact”- “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”. -Galatians 5.15
Hmmm. Paul is writing this in a letter to a Christian church.
If this is the case so long ago (see Cain vs. Abel and, etc.) I would suggest we -all- learn to be (and I am indeed talking to myself here) “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry because the anger of humans does not achieve the righteousness of God.” -James 1.19,20
Then again, maybe I wrote all this just to be accepted?!
Truth be told, I believe I am accepted by God due to the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, and that acceptance of ***Him and His truth claims*** are what’s truly essential.
These are two of a very few non-negotiables in my own life- and yet accepting people while not always their beliefs or positions on various issues is also a deep conviction and practice of mine. Competition? Frankly, I could care less who “wins”when winning is the real issue. I’m already dead and my life is hidden with Christ in God. This is a spiritual reality to me that may simply sound like empty words to some, but there it is. I never said it was simple or easy, but this is how I roll now and right into eternity. In His grace. In His service.
To those who think I just jumped off the roof there- keep shootin’… I belong to the resurrected Savior 🙂
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn