Engaging the Culture Helps Us Grow Like Jesus
There are days when I’m tempted to disconnect from some of my friends on Facebook, mainly the ones who regularly post opinions with which I almost never agree. Then I remember two important truths: One, I love them for who they are, not what they do or how they think, and, two, they help me grow like Jesus. So I resist the temptation to isolate myself in a silo of like-minded thinkers, of which there are very few.
We live in a divisive age. It feels more divisive than any era in history, but that’s probably because we’re living it, not reading about it. The fact it, other ages and eras were plenty divisive. But that doesn’t negate our current sad state of affairs. And the worst thing we can do if we want to promote unity is separate more and more from each other.
Not that that unity is the ultimate goal. It would be nice, and I’m all for it. But the bigger goal is the discovery of truth – not my truth or your truth, but the truth. Unity around lies creates a smooth path toward collective destruction. (See the Jonestown mass suicide for Exhibit A. For a more slippery-slope example, see the “decline of thinking” in American higher education.)
As followers of Jesus, our spiritual growth depends on deepening our relationship with Christ. Jesus is The Truth we seek. And none of us – not one among us – has a lock on understanding Truth. A.T. Robertson put it this way in The Minister and His Greek New Testament: “Scholarship, real scholarship, seeks to find the truth. That is its reward. The Christian scholar finds the same joy in truth and he is not uneasy that the foundations will be destroyed.”
We live in an age, however, when the priority for many people seems to focus on protecting their personal truth, which invariably is based on their feelings and emotions, not facts or logic. The last thing they want is the opinions, fact-based or not, of those who disagree with them. The most troubling examples of this are found in our universities, where many schools no longer invite speakers who disagree with the faculty’s ideologies or, if they do, they protest, lead riots, and, in some cases, attack people who support the speaker. (See Middlebury College as Exhibit A.) More and more, it seems people are protesting for the sake of protest. At Middlebury College, faculty and students admitted that they’d actually never read anything written by Charles Murry, the social scientist speaker they were protesting.
As I noted in a previous blog, it seems we’ve lost our desire (and the necessary skills) for civil discourse. What we need, in my humble opinion, is more friends who don’t agree with us on everything. Not so we can yell and scream at them on social media in some misguided attempt to “win” them to “our truth,” but so that we can listen to them, talk to them, and learn from them in a shared pursuit of the Truth.
As followers of Jesus, the divisive world around us should send us deeper in to the Word of God and into communication with God. Then if and when we engage the world around us, perhaps others would seek that Truth, as well. And if they seek, they will find.