Compartments or …?

Controversy is everywhere in this tumultuous time. Like buried tires burst to the surface refusing to remain hidden, issues, long contentious, are doing the same. Of course Ukraine’s defense of it’s independence is front and center – and rightly so. Freedom, democracy, bullying tactics, the role of the church (the Pope warned Patriarch Krill, the Russian Orthodox leader in Moscow, to not be Putin’s altar boy). Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing. “Sports players should not be penalized for what their home country is doing”. Lee Westwood and others want to play for very lucrative money in a Saudi sanctioned golf tournament. “Politics and sport shouldn’t mix”. The right to abortion has exploded to the surface in America yet again. “Religion and a woman’s choice, politics and religion, should be separate”.

Is it really possible to dissociate and slice and dice life into segments that are divorced and never mix? It superficially makes life easier to attempt to live in compartments where it is mutually agreed not to talk about ‘hot’ topics. I think we do so at our peril, because seeking safety and no offense impoverishes ourselves and diminishes one another. Perhaps the reason is because we have lost the skill and ability to advocate for freedom even when holding diametrically opposite views. To disagree fundamentally and passionately does not have to result in the ‘other’ being destroyed or having no right to live according to their choices or worldviews. Of course, the common foundation is that however we choose to live we do not harm or hurt anyone else. When that occurs we forfeit the right to ‘express our freedom’.

I believe it is far better to engage in learning, hearing, understanding, disagreeing, as a means to facilitate change. Instead of adopting ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ so that I cannot tolerate you living on my street. Life is totally interconnected. It is that very mix of tensions that can motivate us to wrestle with complexity and become more tolerant, rather than retreating into like-minded ghettos of prejudice and invariably a distorted worldview. Agreeing to disagree is not the end of the world, neither does it have to destroy a friendship. We seldom live with absolute conclusions about anything. Perhaps someone will change over time, one would hope so.

Christians are not alone in needing to grow better at showing understanding and tolerance, choosing rather to live in compartments, regarding the world as us and them, saved and unsaved, good and evil. The sad result is that communication across the lines of difference become increasingly difficult because common humanity is lost sight of. With little contact cancers of prejudice, fear of the other, and false narratives cloud truth and shape the other into grotesque monsters far removed from the actual.

Everything impacts and effects everything. The body is made from cells not compartments. Compartments cut off life from one another, cells distribute and facilitate the essence of life throughout the body. When one cell is ‘attacked’ the ensuing struggle effects the whole body and together they work to overcome. Cut off from one another death is inevitable. The same is true with life in all its complexity. Sport, politics, religion, abortion, and everything else we can think of are interconnected. Freedom provides us with the privilege and responsibility of working things out when those inconvenient tires of controversy pop up through the Wimbledon lawns, the Saudi golf greens, power struggles in Europe, or the American law courts.

Jesus lived his life amidst high-rise compartments erected by Roman oppressors and religious zealots who tolerated no alternative worldviews. It is probably why he gathered his disciples from the shores of Galilee rather than the temple in Jerusalem. He modelled living and relating outside of compartments, navigating the tensions and calling those who had never known another way to consider a life less hostile and segregated. He advocated loving one another, including enemies, or those with whom we disagree. Love in relationship; even embracing a tough action or conversation, without ever harming or disenfranchising another. Love, even at the risk of losing relationship, stood its ground with patience, integrity, and conviction. Love that refused to turn a blind eye or to consider an inconvenient truth as off limits.

Relationship, humility, a servant heart, hospitality, peace, and a willingness to walk away and let be were hallmarks of Jesus’ message and lifestyle. Honoring God, caring for the poor, challenging the privileged and the rich, advocating for the sick, feeding the hungry, regarding every human being as equally precious. Those were the practical ways that Jesus encouraged compartments to be opened, guards to be lowered, and freedom to be tasted and experienced. Everything he said, modelled, and eventually died for was rooted in relationship. “You are loved” are the first words out of his mouth in every conversation – whether to Pilate, Peter, or the adulterous woman at the well; you and me.

And that’s why, in this tumultuous time I continue to follow him and find my hope in him. He doesn’t serve pie in the sky when we die, rather he invites us to taste and see that God is good on earth as in heaven and then to live from that fundamental truth. It begins with him and it makes the world of difference.

And having said all that I still don’t have much of a clue – to be honest.

Two songs from a country style speak volumes methinks 🙂 Yes, not everyone likes the style, but perhaps truth is hidden around us in different guises. Imagine that!

Every time I tried to make it on my own
Every time I tried to stand and start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on
There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground
When the friends I had were nowhere to be found
I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace (Mmm)
For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay (Mmm)
I’m not perfect so I thank God every day
There was Jesus (There was Jesus)

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

On the mountain, in the valleys (There was Jesus)
In the shadows of the alleys (There was Jesus)
In the fire, in the flood (There was Jesus)
Always is and always was
No I never walk alone (Never walk alone)
You are always there

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute (Every minute), every moment (Every moment)
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

There was Jesus
There was Jesus
There was Jesus

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Jonathan Smith / Zach Williams / Jonathan Lindley Smith / Casey Michael Beathard / Zachary Williams

There Was Jesus lyrics © Little Louder Songs, Be Essential Songs, Seven Ring Circus Songs

… Oh, I have days I lose the fight
Try my best but just don’t get it right
Where I talk a talk that I don’t walk
And miss the moments right before my eyes

… Somebody with a hurt that I could have helped
Somebody with a hand that I could have held
When I just can’t see past myself
Lord, help me be

… A little more like mercy, a little more like grace
A little more like kindness, goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience, a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me

… Yeah, there’s no denying I have changed
‘Cause I’ve been saved from who I used to be
But even at my best, I must confess
I still need help to see the way You see

… Somebody with a hurt that I could have helped
Somebody with a hand that I could have held
When I just can’t see past myself
Lord, help me be

… A little more like mercy, a little more like grace
A little more like kindness, goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience, a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me

… Oh, I wanna feed the beggar on the street
Learn to be Your hands and feet
Freely give what I receive
Lord, help me be
I want put You first above all else
Love my neighbor as myself
In the moments no one sees
Lord, help me be
(One, two, three)

… A little more like mercy, a little more like grace
A little more like kindness, goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience, a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, oh, a little less like me

… A little more of living everything I preach
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me
Oh, a little less like me

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Zach Williams / Mia Leanne Cherie Fieldes / Charles Henry Iii Bentley

Less Like Me lyrics © Be Essential Songs, Capitol Cmg Amplifier, Every Square Inch

John Cox

Christian Author

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