I had a really interesting encounter today. I'm not going to offer any details, because I don't want to seem like I'm disparaging anyone, and the last thing I want is some well meaning reader to confront any of them. All I'll say is that some people wanted to let me know that they think it's dangerous and destructive when I share my story and my opinions.
They called me a false teacher.
They also told me to stop that when I'm kind to others, or share the work of people who disagree with me, because it looks like I'm just trying to be the bigger person.
I can't weigh in on that first part. I obviously don't think I'm a "false teacher," but it's their right to believe that I am. However, I would like to weigh in on the second claim: I am absolutely trying to be the bigger person.
Sometimes, I'd love to share the barbs and retorts that cross my mind, but I choose not to. When I tell someone I'm sorry I've hurt them, or upset them, it's not posturing--it's my heart. When I bless someone, it's not underhanded. It's a blessing, with no strings attached.
I am a deeply flawed and incomplete person. My knowledge of this world is not complete. In many cases, I'm just operating on working assumptions. But, as I look at the vortexes of anger and name calling happening in the Church world, I can't jump into the fray. I can't discredit another, or tell them they are out of the club.
I can't say it any better than the man I've chosen to model my life upon. Here are his words as reported in the Gospel of Luke:
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate."
My friends succeeded in hurting me today. I can't pretend that I haven't shed many tears this afternoon. But, I'm not ready to fight...
...and I hope that I never will be.