I was getting my hair cut the other day and was having a conversation with my friend and barber, Evel Ogilville, about spirits, demons, other dimensions, the matrix, hyper- rationalism, and our cultural cynicism. Yeah, it’s one heck of a conversation… and I am fortunate that he can focus on cutting my hair while still carrying on an amazing discussion.
We reached a point at the end of our conversation when I blurted out something I must have been unconsciously repressing in the deep recesses of my brain for quite some time. I didn’t think about it immediately, but as I left and began walking down the sidewalk to my car, it really hit me.
It hit me really hard. Like a dagger in the heart.
I had been discussing my new podcast and my writing endeavors over the last couple of years when I blurted, “You know, I quit writing about difficult and controversial topics a while back because too many people were getting mad at me for offering a different perspective about faith.”
What a cowardly thing to think. What a cowardly thing to say.
To be honest, over the last couple of years, I had not actively made a choice to avoid tough or controversial topics, but when I said those words it was like the door of my heart opened and released something I had buried. It cut me deep.
I have always been willing to take on heavy topics and challenge the status quo, always with the hope that we, as the Church, together, would look and act more like Jesus in a world that desperately needs the love and hope of Christ.
Granted, it’s not fun to be “unfriended” by hundreds of “Christian friends,” avoided like the plague by other Christians, or called a “Communist” by another Christian (that was definitely not a particularly joyful experience).
But good grief.
Suck it up, man.
It’s not like I am being burned at the stake, or being thrown to the lions (yet). And if my message is about the self-sacrificial love of God demonstrated through Jesus and how it can save us and give our lives purpose and meaning in the present and for the future… then there is no greater purpose for which I would rather stand. For one hundred people “unfriending” me is hardly a lashing. And being avoided like the plague doesn’t hold a candle to being stoned to death. And being called a Communist is a blessing compared to being crucified.
But here is the truth that we all have to come face-to-face with- If we are a part of the Church and are really serious about actively pursuing and living out the way of Jesus, but there happens to be elements of following him that contradict what we currently believe, how we currently think, what actions we currently take, and how we currently treat others… then it is imperative that we have a conversation about it.
That’s just the reality of the situation.
And that may make some people mad. It may make some people uncomfortable. It may push some people into areas where they have never been. And that’s ok. We can have a conversation about tough issues without everyone getting upset and defensive and hateful.
Many moons ago, I used the truth I had discovered as a sledgehammer, which was absolutely wrong. My motivation wasn’t love. I recognized that and have gone out of my way over the last couple of years to repent and confess to anyone who may have been put-off by me. And just to make sure we are cool, if you haven’t personally heard (or read) my apologies, then I apologize to you for being less-than-loving when trying to discuss important issues of faith.
But, there is another part to this as well.
If we are going to move forward in any meaningful way and have difficult discussions on what it means to follow Jesus in a post-Christian country and then hammer out what implications that has for you, as an individual, and then collectively for our churches, then we all have to get better at having conversations with each other. We have to get better at walking alongside each other in grace and love, while earnestly seeking the heart and truth of God in Christ together. We are all going to have to get off of our righteous high-horses, while learning how to be humble in Spirit. And at the end of the day, it may mean that we decide to disagree with one another, but we will do it standing united in Christ and do it bonded together by our mutual pursuit of grace and love toward each other.
There is nothing more essential.
Right now our conversations are not conservations. Our words quickly become angry, heated, non-loving diatribes with only one purpose… to win the argument and make the other person look bad. Our minds are made up and our ears are closed off to learning, understanding, and discovering truth from another perspective or angle. It is like two massive tectonic plates that continue to grind and push with immense force and ferocity… with the unfortunate consequence being wreckage and devastation.
We are not better for it, nor is anyone else in the world.
We need to have conversations, and we need to have conversations, together. We need to seek truth and the heart of God, together. We need to wrestle with each other. We will disagree. But we will be better for it because we will have done it in a way that honors Christ and each other. We will walk together united. We will seek together united. We will listen to one another in mutual as brothers and sisters in Christ. And we will keep an open heart and open mind in hopes that the Spirit will guide us deeper to the heart of Christ.
We absolutely have to get better at this… and stop these ridiculously flippant and casual accusations of “heresy” and “heretic” for the masses to voraciously consume. It is so pathetic and does nothing, NOTHING, but fill up social media and create more dividing lines and micro-arguments between people on “opposing sides.” It is exhausting. What have we become? Let’s sit around the table and pray and talk and dig in and learn from one another, for it truly is the only way forward.
In hopes of gracefully and lovingly walking together,