Christ followers have a tendency to curdle into small lumps. These lumps have affection, or at least a modest tolerance, for others in their lump. Now, some of these lumps think that they are the one and only true curd. All others are some kind of fraudulent curd. They may look like the real curd, smell like the real curd, maybe even taste like the real curd. But, they cannot be the real curd. Problems tend to arise when there is a whole bowl full of curds stating that they are the only true curd. They are forced to rub their curdy little elbows because they’re all in the same bowl. This makes them extremely uncomfortable. They wish that they could have their own bowls. In fact, many of the curds believe that as long as they can keep from being polluted by the other pseudo-curds, they will when a special time comes be transported to their own bowls in some kind of glorified curdled curd. The truth is, however, that curds are curds. They are all formed out of the same curd-making stuff. The little curd battles that they fight do nothing but deform themselves.
This is kind of the way that I feel about a lot of what I read from various sources. There are the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of evangelicalism, Albert Mohler, Owen Strachan, and others. These people are convinced that their understanding of Jesus and the Church is the only possible understanding. Any who would differ with them are on one slippery slope or another that inevitably leads to some disastrous outcome. They lead through fear and manipulation.
There are others, like Fred Clark and Tony Jones who are more than willing to point out the deficiencies of Mohler and company. But, they are also willing to point out their own deficiencies. That’s kind of refreshing, but it’s still one curd calling another curd a curd.
There are still others who simply refuse to get involved. They ignore the other curds in the bowl. I think of much of the Orthodox faith. They are content to play by themselves.
Then there are folks like Brian McLaren and Justin Lee. These people can see the distinctions between people and their beliefs. They use their experience as a guide to what they think and believe. Both, but especially Lee, are gracious toward others. Even when that other really deserves to get smacked up-side the head. People like these give me some hope for us as a species.
One of the things that we tend to miss in all of the posturing and arguing is how much we really need each other. In the so-called ‘bigger picture,’ we are all still fellow travelers on this big ol’ marble in space. According to the Bible, we have are co-workers in the field of Yahweh. So, we can be different and still united. I think they call that diversity.
Anyway, all that to get to this. I was reading a poem by Walt Whitman this morning. He was by no means a devout follower of Christ. Yet, he seemed to understand our need for one another better than most of us who do claim to follow Yeshua. His poem, “Stronger Lessons”…
Have you learn’d lessons only of those who admired you,
and were tender with you, and stood aside for you?
Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject
you, and brace themselves against you? or who treat you
with contempt, or dispute the passage with you?
Maybe we do need to stop and take a closer look at those other curds. We may find ourselves in the process.