I invite you to embark with me as we take a close look at Kingdom Culture. In my ministry, I often travel to the heart of Culture Wars to minister to those touched by homosexuality. That is not easy. But in doing so, God has taught me many lessons.
One lesson I keep learning is how I cannot always be right. We evangelicals deeply desire to be right. We often get right ‘wrong’ because of how we go about our mission: our words and actions fall short of Christlikeness. But other times, we are just plain wrong.
What! Evangelicals wrong? May it never be!
It’s hard to admit being wrong – especially when we know we’re just SO right! (smile) Yet there is a spiritual fruit of God’s Spirit that can be born only when we come to see ourselves and others more clearly. Unfortunately, we cannot see more clearly if we remain harbored deep in our own territory surrounded by church culture. Instead, we must venture beyond our safe and comfortable boundaries if we are really going to be stretched to see the truth.
Let me start off this series with a simple question: have you ever had an argument with your spouse, parent or a close friend? Deep down, you know you are right. Yet the longer that you persist in proclaiming just how right you are, the wider the relational divide becomes. Your rightness is not fixing the disagreement; it is fueling the disagreement.
At first glance, this is both shocking and utterly frustrating. Ok, at the hundredth glance, it remains shocking and frustrating! How can they not see your point? How can it be! Yet the reality is that the harder you push to explain your position, the more entrenched your loved one becomes in their own position. Being right is killing relational connectivity. You may be right, but the cost of being right is so high that it is no longer worth pressing any more ‘buttons.’ You’ve tried everything you can and the person ‘on the other side’ remains unswayed.
At some point, you make an unthinkable decision: you decide to ‘surrender’ being right even though you know you are right. You suspend or surrender your ‘right’ to be right and focus instead on listening. You may not agree with what you hear, but all of a sudden you start to learn new details. It’s a stretch, but you actually kind of see the other person’s position. It’s painful to endure, but you actually start to feel the other person’s feelings. It’s like having your internal gears stripped, but you actually start to see how the other person can see some situation completely opposite as you do.
In many cases, you do not actually change your own view: you simply learn to live in peace with others. You learn to dwell ‘with’ them and position your heart ‘for’ them even in the midst of thoughts, feelings, knowledge and convictions that remain in opposition. At first, this is not an easy place to dwell; but over time, the discipline of doing so stretches your heart to love no matter what. Relationally, you learn to love without needing to control. Evangelistically, you learn to love without needing to convince. This opens a whole new way of seeing others and it frees one’s soul.
In some cases, however, you may actually realize that your view has changed. After all, we simply cannot be right every time! You thought it was quite simple: you are right. But as details are shared and your heart is expanded to see and to listen to the other person, you realize your heart has been too hard and your mind has been too tightly wound around your own position. Suddenly and often unexpectedly, you realize you actually do agree with your spouse, your parent or your close friend. All because of conflict, you have been challenged and as a result of that challenge you have been changed. This too opens a whole new way of seeing others and it too frees one’s soul.
Culture Wars divide, Culture Wars multiply. Culture Wars attack, Culture Wars distract. Culture Wars accuse, Culture Wars abuse. Culture Wars hate, Culture Wars exasperate. Culture Wars judge, Culture Wars will not budge. Culture Wars escalate, Culture Wars alienate. Culture Wars classify, Culture Wars dehumanize. Culture Wars destroy, Culture Wars produce a lot of noise.
Join me as we go right to the heart of Culture Wars with Kingdom Culture…
Click here to easily navigate to Part 1.