Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Choose The Difficult

One of the things I've learned (I sound like such a wise sage, don't I?) is that sometimes you've got to take the hard way, the difficult path, in order to do the right and good thing.

I've got a friend who's having some issues with what she's being taught in Sunday School. Basically, the leader is saying that this is the new way to read this passage, and that everything you've ever heard on this subject is wrong. I tried to explain a little what he was talking about, and she followed - but I didn't use the "everything else is wrong" tactic, and it seems that she's more offended at the method rather than the message. Where he is trying to teach something completely new, and trying to give it some weight by saying "all theologians agree", he's coming across as one who's stubborn and arrogant and who dismisses the what-we've-already-learned entirely, even if that former way was as biblical or transforming as the new thing he's trying to promote.

I've been there, I've done that. I've been the one who read the book first, and who tried to explain that everything I've learned to this point was throw up in the air because I've been messed up by the Holy Spirit playing Fruitbasket Turnover with my doctrine. I know where this leader is at, as much as I can empathize, and he's about to lose his mind, a good and painful process that will change who he is and how he ministers.

I know - can't get more vague, can I? I want to tell her that the easy thing to do would be to get upset and offended. It's easy to pick holes at something based on tact or a lack thereof. It's tough enough being asked to grasp this new idea, much less to be told unswervingly that you've been living a lie to this point. It's easy to take that personally, or to want to defend your own faith in the face of this unwanted opposition. You didn't sign up for this.

But that's the easy thing, getting offended. The hard way is to listen past the method to the truth that God might actually want to share. The difficult thing would be to champion his cause, to be his number one fan, to lead others to give him a break and let's discuss this new thing in the open. The painful way would be sucking up our pride, going with the idea that yeah, maybe we've been wrong to this point, and then checking to see if God is big enough to handle it. And I think that's the right thing to do - giving the leader every benefit of your doubt, and leaning hard on Jesus.

It's easy to get offended - trust me, I've seen people get offended at me. I don't want it, and I don't pursue it. There's no good thing that can come from ticking people off all the time. But if you're taking offense at the message, that's a different story. Give me some slack in the presentation, and with great difficulty we can make sense of the message together.


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