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Today David is here with our last Trait post on the Church Rebel  (don’t worry– we’ll have a wrap up for next week… one written with me in his homeland, probably over beers, coffee and war stories).  

I squirmed through his scenarios because I saw myself in them too clearly.  

Come.  Be still for a moment. Listen.  Identify.  Exhale.

The trait:

Having the same needs and fears as everyone else

The situation:

Today is our final trait in this series, and as I’ve looked back over our posts and reflected on my own heart in relation to this topic, it’s clear we’re all looking for the same things, from the most hazy liberal to the most stringent fundamentalist: love, acceptance, truth, meaning, freedom, relationships. Rebels seem very self-confident sometimes, but that often masks the same insecurities and fears as the people around us. See if you can find yourself in one or more of these examples:

We’ll have an argument in which I strongly denounce your conservative theological position, and then I’ll go home and pray restlessly and weakly, terrified that I’m wrong and of the consequences if so, no matter how many good reasons I have for believing what I do.

I’ll be discussing some issue with my more liberal friends and I won’t want to admit my misgivings with fully accepting a certain progressive position because I don’t want to appear regressive and fundamentalist.

I’ll be discussing some issue with my more conservative friends and I won’t want to plainly express what I think because I don’t want to be cast as a heretic and receive their shock/grief/rejection/pity.

No matter how “sure” I am of something I believe, I’ll struggle under the crushing pressure of teaching my child the right things about God, Jesus and the Bible. No amount of personal confidence can make me confident enough where she’s involved.

No matter how irreconcilable our positions, I will continue to hope that if we’re both earnest and kind enough I will be able to stay close to my friends who think I’m headed to hell in a handbasket (for the glory of God).

I’ll be convicted by something said by a person I typically disagree with, but I won’t want to pay attention to it because I don’t want to be told I need to change anything in my heart, especially not by that person.

We’ll be arguing about something, and I’ll have trouble admitting I’m wrong on any point because I don’t want to give you any points in our theological contest. Or I’ll have trouble admitting I don’t understand what you just said, because I’m afraid it will make me look dumb.

I’ll write a post just like this, and I’ll almost hit delete because I’ll know some of the people reading it will be people involved in these hypotheticals, and they might interpret my honest expressions of doubt and insecurity as chinks in the armor, the Holy Spirit convicting me that they’re right, and I won’t want to give them that false satisfaction.  And then I’ll remember that healing only comes from honesty and love, and I’ll try to remember a God who let himself be nailed to a cross rather than defend himself as right, and gave as an example of vulnerable, intimate love his own naked, bleeding body, and I’ll sigh and hit publish instead. And I’ll try to show grace to those who believe I’m terribly wrong, and pray they show grace to me too.

Thoughts for rebels and churches:

No seperate advice today, because we’re all in the same boat.  What I want to say today is the same for everyone– emergents, neo-Calvinists, and everyone in between. Listen to each other’s stories. Look for the fears and needs and wants that motivate a person to do and say the things they do and say. You will often find they are very similar to your own, even if the outward expressions are not. A person’s story helps you understand why they have trouble accepting your position, why they have their pet beliefs that seem out of proportion, why they seem eager to jump on one ship or another, why their natural compass tends to steer left or right of its own accord. Don’t communicate in talking points; communicate with words. The person you are arguing with is a human being, loved by God, in need of forgiveness and mercy and grace, influenced by fears and needs and virtues they aren’t even aware of, trying to do and believe what is right and often failing.    And  so  are  you,  on  every  point.     No one is right about everything they believe. Please, Christians, rebel or not: Show grace.



4 responses to “O Rebel, Where Art Thou, Trait #8”

  1. Listen. Show grace. Yes. That is what I came here for. I’m pretty sure from what I’ve read in the short amount of time I’ve been here with you, David and Melinda, that I am much more conservative than either of you. But you’ve always shown me grace. Neither of you write in a way that condemns those who don’t believe as you do. You make space for me at the table. You don’t mind that I’m a different flavor of rebel than you are. Thank you for that. Thank you.

  2. Honest conversation is the most valuable gift we can give one another. Whether we agree or not, honestly sharing stories, sharing life is what’s it’s all about. Thanks for a great challenge.

  3. Carolyn – Thanks for saying this. It’s good to hear, because I’m told by some who disagree with me that I can be offensive, though I think they would be offended by ANYone disagreeing with them, regardless of the tone. There is totally room for you at this table. There’s room for all of us!

    Seth – I really see this as the only way we have any hope of healing the hurts within the Church.

    Happygirl – I’ll have to check that out.