Sometimes, I think this is the refrain we secretly mean when we talk about God’s love:
Jesus tolerates the children
Some of the children of the world
If they’re straight and if they’re white,
If their religion is just right
Jesus tolerates the children of the world
We don’t get to decide which people God loves. We don’t even get to decide which ones He likes. It’s not up to us to figure out who is or isn’t saved, or remind anyone what will happen to them if they’re not. We don’t need to qualify that with statements like, “Maybe he had a deathbed conversion” in order to spare our friends (and ourselves) from facing what we’ve claimed as truth. We don’t need to accuse others of causing their brothers and sisters to sin just because we don’t agree with them.
We are sorely in need of a much more generous way of practicing our faith. We need to be able to come to the table with people who are not like ourselves. We need to let them have voices. And that includes those of us who fall closer to the “liberal” or “progressive” end. We need to be prepared for Christian brothers and sisters who have not, and likely will not, embrace what we have.
This is hard for me to remember. Although I lean toward being more progressive, I’m certainly not as liberal as many people I know. It’s hard not to think they’ve taken things too far. On the other hand, it’s hard not to be frustrated with those who are more conservative, believing they haven’t moved past spiritual childhood. I have to be very cautious to rein it in when spending time together that I don’t let myself look down on anyone who isn’t…well, me.
And isn’t that the problem for all of us, even outside matters of faith? We’re so quick to judge others for their taste in music, clothes, food, books, and so on, even when it has no deep spiritual or practical implications. We believe ourselves to have the market on what’s right or good.
I’m ready to work on moving beyond that as we enter a new year. How about you?