Elephants, Sunglasses, and Violence.
This past Sunday we launched a new series at The Bridge titled, The Elephant In The Room. This isn’t a new idea, many churches have used a series with this title to tackle tough topics that never seem to get exposed in their community. But we need to talk about these things right? Isn’t it helpful to acknowledge the Elephant In The Room? Often our desire for unity keeps us from talking about issues that might otherwise seem divisive or polarizing, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
On the way into church Sunday everyone was handed a pair of sunglasses. A gift, but also a reminder. We talked about how we have each been handed a prescription. A way to see the world. The place we were born, the places we have lived, the religious belief we were exposed to, the socioeconomic background we grew up in, the political ideology we were handed, the education we had access to, the life experiences we have through relationships and travel, and so much more. All of these things factor into how we see the world, and how we see each other.
The struggle comes when we think we have the perfect prescription. The way we see the world is the “right” way and the way they see the world is “wrong” way. Holding so tightly to our prescription is not conducive for creating conversations or relationships. Instead, it is a way of thinking that halts conversations and relationships because I already see it the “right” way. One might conclude, “I have nothing to learn from you. No amount of exposure to your life and upbringing, struggles and joys, might change the way I see things.” Certainly we do not verbalize it like this, but yet sometimes when it comes down to it, this is how we hold our views. Is this how Jesus intends for us to hold our prescription?
The only perfect prescription that exists is to see the world through the lens of Jesus. Jesus sees perfectly. Our desire is to see as Jesus sees. To see our neighbor the way Jesus would see them. To see the drug addict the way Jesus would see them. To see the gay couple the way Jesus would see them. And so on and so on. The only way we can see through the lens of Jesus is to remain humble, and to announce that we have not arrived; we are still in process.
You and I have room to grow in our understanding. We acknowledge the glasses we wear and work toward exposing the adjustments necessary to look more like Jesus. Just as those with glasses have to go into the eye doctor each year to reevaluate their prescription, to see if their eyes have changed, it is critical to create rhythms of reevaluating how we, as followers of Jesus, view the world. Helpful questions might be: “What did Jesus say about this?” “Are our words coming from a place of compassion for others or passion to hold tightly to our current prescription?” “Is my view being shaped out of my fear of something or my love toward someone?”
Sunday we had Meara Kwee from the YWCA Harrisburg come share about Domestic Violence. I had the privilege of interviewing her during our typical Life Connection (sermon) time. In one of my conversations with Meara prior to interviewing her, we were discussing women who were caught in the cycle of domestic violence and I said, “We should just tell them to leave!” The lens through which I was looking was not considering all the variables. The reality that children, finances, transportation, and so much more can be large factors which make it hard to just up and leave. Not to mention that up to 75% of abused women who are murdered are killed after they leave their partners. Also, take into consideration that if I tell them to leave, I am making a choice for a victim who has been deprived of power and decision making. My prescription needed an adjustment. And it still does. I am committed to continual growth on this topic and others.
The largest Elephant In The Room/Church, is our lack of humility. Our inability to admit we don’t have all the answers, we don’t see through the perfect prescription, and we have a lot to learn.
May we grow in humility as we seek to adjust our prescription.