Monday, July 15, 2013

The Problem With People

People will ruin your theology...if you'll let them.

I went to Abilene Christian University in order to get an education. I left with an undergraduate degree in Bible and a Master of Divinity.

That's right! I'm a Master of the Divine. The downside of pursuing a doctorate would be the demotion from "Master Packer" to "Doctor Packer."

I learned a lot at ACU. They gave me many tools to help me serve the church. My grasp on theology was pretty strong. And I loved the educational philosophy of my school. They weren't trying to teach me what to think as much as how to think. And that is more rare than you can imagine!

I grew up with a black-and-white worldview. And that dualistic worldview had more to do with my nature than how I was nurtured. There was good & evil, right & wrong, Baseball Fans & Yankee Fans.

I'm guessing my childhood crayon box had a perfect point on my gray crayon because I had no use for ambivalence. I knew where I stood and if you wanted to be my friend, then you'd better see things my way.

Some of us grew up in churches that instilled that kind of worldview in us. We were taught to think in terms of Us vs. Them.

And that worldview works just fine...until someone you love steps outside of your boundaries.

-It's easy to flatly condemn divorce...until you marry a woman who is thankful for the divorce of her parents because her step-father gave her a spiritual foundation she would have never had otherwise.
-It's easy to look down on alcoholics...until your daughter suffers through an eating disorder that she can't seem to shake.
-It's easy to dismiss the needs of the homeless...until the economy turns and you realize you are one paycheck away from the streets.
-It's easy to judge gay people...until your son comes out of the closet to turn your world upside-down.

And that's the problem with people. Our relationships tend to destroy our categories.

Some people are resilient enough to not let people impact their worldview. They hang onto their beliefs and let go of the people who offer them a way out of their small world.

So, my advice to you is this. If you want your theology and your categories to remain unchallenged, then don't make relationships with people who represent groups you are against. And don't have children because you have no idea how they will challenge your assumptions about the world.

If you want to hate Muslims, don't hang out near mosques.
If you want to hate gay people, don't befriend gay people.
If you want to hate Yankee fans, be wary of people with "NY" on their hats.

Do you know what has destroyed the sectarianism of Churches of Christ more than anything else?

Bible Study Fellowship and Community Bible Studies. Because when we cross-pollinated with Christians of other faith traditions, we could no longer deny that the fruit of the Spirit was evident in their lives.

As long as we stayed in our own churches, out of ignorance, we could deny that others were Christians.

My theology would be undisturbed were it not for the people in my life.

God, I've got more categories. So, will you send more people?


dick bolz said...

Awesome. Spot on. Plus...I picked up some great quotes from this post. Thank you my pastor.

Steve Byrne said...