I am passionate about avoiding the extreme when it comes to the complex topics of life that try to get worked out by turning it into a us vs them dynamic. Think politics, sexuality, finances, raising kids, and any topic that raises our blood pressure.
All of us have experienced a conversation we were forced into a position that put us against the other person on a topic that, if we are honest, we care little about or know little about. The results of these types of conversations at best allow us to know the other person a little bit better, but most of the time it gives us a chance to reinforce our own perspective or reject their point of view.
And when you take this human reality of simplifying complex topics to an us vs them mentality and cram Jesus into it… it gets messy quick.
I am convinced that a majority of the world would like Jesus a lot more if they interacted with how Jesus is presented in the gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) rather than how he is presented when tied to a political party or social issue.
For this to become a reality it is going to require something of church people and Jesus followers that may be hard for us to do. It requires a small shift in how we choose to view the world.
The small shift is that we need to make is to reorder which lens is our primary lens when viewing tough and complex topics. Then we can participate in difficult discussions in a meaningful way that respects the other persons point of view without breaking the relationship or compromising your own beliefs.
The two lenses are Jesus and our social/political ideologies.
When we view the world, our relationships, and our work through the lens of our personal social/political ideologies we find ourselves prioritising being right over the relationship, protecting our reputation rather than doing what is right, and extending love and attention to those who agree with us.
When we view the world, our relationships, and our work through the lens of Jesus and his expectation of his followers we find ourselves prioritising the relationship over being right, doing what is right even at the expense of our reputation, and extending love and attention to those who disagree with us.
When our two lenses are prioritised wrongly it will lead to limited curiosity. Limited curiosity will push us further to the extremes. Limited curiosity will push us further to the extremes, and the extremes are where complex topics lead to fractured relationships.
Being on the extremes limits our ability to love others well and failing to love others well will cut us off from following Jesus the way he intended to be followed.
Good luck. It isn’t easy, but Jesus never said it would be.
He just promised to be with us through it all.
Josh has been on staff at Lesmurdie Baptist Church since 2018. He is married to Marnel and they have 4 children together - Azaliah, Ezra, Zoelle, and Zion. What drives Josh is seeing people put their faith into action so Jesus can change lives in the here and now.