So yesterday I talked a little about this quote from Jerry Falwell Jr.
"There are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country."I want to take umbrage with that comment. But I see it and I do see some of myself in it. And to be honest, I'm not sure that I'm all that likely to change.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I think that telling people about Jesus is unimportant. Far from it. But I do wonder if our actions get in the way of the message of Jesus's love. Heck, I don't wonder, I know they do. I've heard people tell me that they do. Not all of them, not all of the time, but enough that a lot of people just shut it down just on principle.
Parts of the internets have been ablaze over the past few days with a really powerful post from Nathan over at it seems to me.... I was absolutely blown away by it. In the post, he shares his story of attending the Pride parade in Chicago with some folks from the Marin Foundation. They were there to apologize for how many in the Church have treated the LGBT community and this simple action of standing there led one man participating in the parade to jump off of a float and hug them. Now Tristan (the float guy) and Nathan are having a dialog. Someone who probably felt more rejected than loved got a glimpse of Jesus that day. I don't know if Tristan already knows God or not. But regardless of whether he does or not, I feel pretty certain that he had a moment there where he got to feel Jesus's arms around him. I need that sometimes and I'm pretty firmly entrenched in the Christian community. It's always (ALWAYS!) good to feel accepted.
I think this plays a bit to the Falwell quote. It's not that theology is unimportant. It's not that we don't want people to know Jesus. It's not that we think it's okay for folks to hurt one another or live in poverty or be lonely or sick. I'm sure that even Jerry Falwell and I would agree on that, even if we disagree about the methods used to change that.
Yes, none of these are "big" things. "Are you lonely" seems like a pretty small question compared to "Are you saved." But to the lonely person, the first question eclipses all others. If we're not meeting that need, we have very little chance of finding a meaningful answer to the second question.
Jerry Falwell and I probably don't have a whole lot on which we agree politically or socially. I know there are some of you reading who probably don't agree with me much on those topics. I'm probably related to or attend church with most of you! But I love that we have so much more in common. We may not agree on particulars, but we agree on big picture things. We may see different ways to care for the sick, but we agree that people need access to care. We may not agree on the best way to address homelessness, but we agree that the homeless deserve better than bum fights and starvation. We may not agree on how to end tyranny in other countries, but we don't think that tyranny is a good thing. I've said it before and I know I'll say it again, but we're more the same than we are different.
So if you do happen to catch me using Falwell's phrase (or some variation of it), know that the above is probably what I'm trying to convey. Yes, let's have the discussion about our theology. But let's recognize our shared humanity first. Let's start from our similarities rather than from our differences. Let's acknowledge that some of the small things are big things after all.