We live in a culture that calls people to extremes. Right or Left. Black or White. Yes or No. Hot or Cold. And people not only hold those positions, but they boldly proclaim them. Pontificating and opinionating and proclaimating from whatever bully pulpit a person can climb on to is the treasured right of anyone born in this fair country.
Middle ground gets no respect from neither the right, nor the left.
Gray is seen as uneducated or waffling by both the black and the white.
Maybe is simply a weak, spineless position of a “casper milk toast” character.
Lukewarm apparently makes Jesus sick to his stomach.
And I am, at times, all of the above. Hear me out…
This is not the first (or the last) time I have written on this subject. It is close to my heart. Today, I took the time to read rather lengthy defenses of both sides of the Washington Redskins name controversy. Up until today, I have been pretty convinced changing the name “Redskins” would be the easy, honorable, compassionate and right thing to do…out of respect and sensitivity to Native American Indians in our country.
…until I read a reasonable and informed explanation of related matters I had never even considered.
There are other issues where I can periodically find myself sitting somewhere on the fence…
I will never, ever own a gun. But I understand and affirm the logic of those who feel a need to own them.
I see no need to be a Republican or a Democrat. But I am inspired and enlightened by people on both sides of the political fence. Sometimes, both of their positions on “hot button topics” make perfect sense to me.
As a pastor, I don’t lead as a visionary, a spiritual authority, or an anointed holy man. But I totally understand the emphasis on developing strong leadership to influence and guide a church to grow.
The list is lengthy…
- The inerrancy of the Bible.
- The rapture.
- Home, private and public education.
- The legalization of pot.
- The 1%.
- The military.
- Tex-Mex or Mex-Mex.
- Illegal immigration.
- American League-National League.
- Small church-Mega church.
- Rich or poor.
- Separation of church and state.
Need I go on? Do I have opinions on every one of them? You bet. Do I feel passionately correct in each of my positions? No way. Do I know and respect people (and their opinions) who fall on different sides of the issues? Definitely.
So here’s my takeaway: I work hard to be as informed as I can be…on as many topics as I can handle. I always leave room for error on my part. I always work to find truth in positions that differ from mine. I see strength in diversity…it pushes me to be stronger in my pursuit of peace and deeper in my love for others.
And respect and understanding go much further than condescension and arrogance, as a representative of Jesus.