Monday, February 18, 2013

Questioning another's faith

Every day on the internet, good friends end up as mortal enemies over what starts out as an innocent post, or comment. I regret that I have too often initiated or escalated or otherwise supported these verbal jousts that turn into battles that drive wedges between people. Whether it's the relative anonymity, or the freedom we feel online that we don't feel in person or even on the phone, it is sad that such bitterness can erupt out of what start out to be innocent exchanges.

These estrangements are particularly evident when the subject of faith comes up. We all seem to have very strong, even entrenched positions on religion. And far too often, I am guilty of letting what I know to be true to my faith to get in the way of what Jesus described as the Christian faith: to love God and to love each other.

Scripture gives us plenty of warnings against being too sure of ourselves, or too certain of the accuracy or correctness of our religious beliefs. "Don't be quick to judge, or you will be judged yourself....Take the log out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in your neighbor's eye... Don't practice your piety in public...." All these admonitions remind us that the "foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of humans."

So how do we speak the truth to each other in love, and avoid the kind of animosities that can overwhelm our relationships and our own spirit? Well, two passages in particular seem to jump out at me whenever I find myself becoming insistent or stubborn.  First, Paul writes to the church in Philippi a warning to "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling." That tells me that I don't have it all figured out, so I shouldn't be too certain in what I tell someone else. I'd better be working on that log in my own eye, because it's going to take a lot of work.  And the second passage is the entire 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians - the love chapter.  "Love does not insist on its own we see through a glass darkly...." I can't insist on my own way, because I don't see clearly, and don't know even part of the truth, let alone the wisdom of God.

So to my friends, I apologize for being arrogant and stubborn in my political and religious beliefs. I pray for your forgiveness.