Rarely do the things we believe in our hearts fall hard “left” or hard “right”. Despite what the talking heads on the television try to tell us.
Most of us don’t truly exist in the extremes because it is in the extremes that we see hard lines being drawn refusing to let ideals mesh together in a complicated and uncomfortable tapestry.
Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves and with others, exist in the complicated middle where left and right ideals converge into a muddled palate of grey.
It’s not pretty.
It’s not clean.
Yet most of us will publicly identify with one extreme or another despite what we truly believe in our heart of hearts.
I wonder, however, if it’s because we fear the grey matter that lives in the middle? The grey matter that doesn’t clearly box us in to the various political and idealogical camps? The grey matter that doesn’t define us in comfortable ways making it easier for us to “relate” to larger groups of people and feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves?
I’ve heard pastors and politicians alike say things like, “There is no such thing as neutral.”
Some of these folks say this out of sincere concern, while others say this out of sheer arrogance assuming they have somehow ascended the mountain of all knowledge and wisdom and can therefore see all that surrounds us and now have a better view of truth and understanding than all of us lowly people still climbing up the first hill.
Reality is, I don’t think the middle necessarily means “neutral”.
If anything I think the middle is a more complicated sphere of existence that requires a deeper, and dare I say, more intimate knowledge of one another. An existence that, I would hope, causes us to take pause and not so quickly and harshly cast each other in to categories and labels that may or may not truly reflect this persons position.
This “middle ground” means understanding that what we believe may not be as “black and white” as we would hope. It may mean tossing aside our labels and our boxes and our political parties to take a longer look at one another and better understand where we stand. We might be shocked to find that we don’t actually stand that far apart, and that the thing that separates us is mostly fear. Fear of the other, and fear of what those who we assume may think like us will ultimately think of us if we were to voice an opinion that doesn’t follow the line of thinking of those we have decided to make camp with.
Hard truth – ALL of us are actively working through a complicated weaving of influence, historical events, cultural context, environments, and a whole slew of other factors. All of which crash into one another, creating chaos and confusion. All of us are trying to claw our way up to the surface simply to catch a breath and take inventory of where we stand.
Perhaps if we were to get more comfortable living in the uncomfortable we wouldn’t be so quick to label everyone as heretics and enemies simply because they don’t think exactly like we do.
Let me be clear here though….this doesn’t mean there aren’t hard truths out there. Absolutes. There absolutely are. And as a Christian, I believe those absolutes lay at the feet of Jesus who said “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No man comes to the Father except through me.”
That said, it just means that perhaps we can find in ourselves a bit more empathy for others knowing that they have arrived to a certain conclusion by no easy means, and for them to come to an opposite conclusion (one that rests on the truth of Jesus Christ) will require no less a complicated pathway out.
Thankfully, it isn’t our job as believers to correct the thinking of others. It is our job to imply and unconditionally love them and speak life to them. It is our job to show them who Jesus is, and live a life that reflects Jesus to them every day.
At that point, it falls squarely into the hands of the Holy Spirit who will absolutely intervene in their hearts and minds, and the Holy Spirit alone will do the work of cleaning up a persons thinking.
Oh, by the way, if we believers think we are in the clear – think again.
Once introduced to Jesus, and once the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives, we will spend an entire lifetime with the Holy Spirit who will be working in us and working things out of us.
We call this SANCTIFICATION – the act of being purified and perfected.