Friday, May 3, 2013

When We Hate Those Who Have a Name

When people oppose us, take views that are not only different from ours but offensive to our religious/political/social sensibilities, there are so many incredible things we can say about them:

Homophobes! Haters!

Liberals! Heretics!

Conservatives! Close-minded bigots!

Evolutionists! Despisers of God!

Creationists! Head-in-the-sand morons!

Catholics! Pope lovers!

Reformers! Protest lovers!

And on and on and on. Incredible, in the strictest sense of the word: So implausible as to elicit unbelief (Free Online Dictionary). But we must believe it because it is happening all around us.

But once, in a moment of weakness, we might stop talking, stop crafting our objections in our heads, stop doing our defensive self-talk that says we have to argue down all comers, and

we listen.

we listen.

We hear how fear and pain have formed the views of the other. We hear how the other has thought about the issue that divides us and learn that the one sitting before us may not be a fool or a heretic, but instead, has approached a difficult topic from a perspective that we hadn’t considered.

And sometimes—just sometimes—we learn that we sit across from a co-human who struggles with life like we do. We sometimes discover that our so-called opponent also claims to share with us a common faith

(can it be so? Can you belong to Jesus and be a . . . . and believe that . . . . and be aligned there . . . . and here . . . . and be that kind of person . . . .

and, and, and.

And sometimes, we learn that the one we have categorized, vilified, demonized, and ostracized

has a name. A name that we can speak as though speaking with a human

a co-human, one made in the image of God.

And our ears ring with familiarity, and revelation, and illumination. And sometimes we get up from the table still marked by disagreement but possibly also marked

by friendship.

And we turn and see Jesus, the Friend of Sinners. Our Friend.

And together we come to his table to share bread and wine, body and blood, and we come not out of worthiness but because we have been invited by Jesus himself

who hears us argue, hears us malign, hears us condemn, hears us reduce and categorize. And he listens to us.

And he loves us.

And he weeps.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us.

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