David French posted an incredible article about Beth Moore leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. But it wasn't just about Beth Moore leaving the SBC, it was about the cruelty directed at her as she gradually rose to challenge some of the deep-seated ideology and tipped a handful of their sacred cows. His article was about what was missing in response to her. The Fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
I see this all the time. I see this everywhere. Ideological war means that there is no weapon off limits. It's your job to defend your system of belief, no matter what means you use to do it. And the most preferred weapon, it seems, is cruelty.
Names are called. Charges are trumped up. Insults are lobbed. Accusations fly. The road to reasonable discourse is blocked by intricate policies, procedures and the assault on one's character. A minor difference in cultural preference or a distance, debatable theological stance comes front and center as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and if you are on the wrong side of that truth, you are on a slippery slope. You are a heretic. You deserve to be burned at the stake.
There is only one word for such vitriol. Evil. This is pure, unadulterated evil.
And yet it can be evil cloaked in the most pious of garments.
Make no mistake. This is about power.
In her memoir Notes on a Silencing, Lacy Crawford makes the astute observation:
It is only when power is threatened that power responds.
Jesus encountered it. Beth Moore encountered it. You may have encountered it.
People. Listen to me. Let go of that power. It is not your ideology that makes you significant. It is not your piety that makes you holy. It is not your purest of pure theology that makes you acceptable to God. That is all a lie from the pit of hell.
We bring nothing to the table. NOTHING. That is the whole point. So if we bring nothing to the table, then someone whose views diverge from ours, that person can take nothing away. They are not a threat.
Let go. Let it go. Let go of your "precious" (yes, think Gollum here) that you feel so rallied to defend. Let go and embrace a God of love and compassion. A God who can himself defend truth.
You can embrace those who are different than you. You can make room for other ideas. Other perspectives. It is possible to disagree and still treat the "other" as of value and created in the image of God.
Last I checked there were two commandments: to love God with all we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Last I checked, loving our neighbors as ourselves didn't involve name calling, slander, insults, and threats.
Don't worry. I know. I need to remember this, too. After all, what good does it do for me to defend God my ideas of God if I am not reflecting the character of God? The next time I post something I need to check and see if there is a spirit of cruelty in my words or if they reflect the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.