Monday, July 19, 2010

It's about who, not what - Live Oak Value #4

We live in a divided society where if you think differently from me or if I have different views than you, we tend to avoid each other and not develop friendships. It is interesting to me to watch how we have begun to assemble ourselves into smaller and smaller subgroups based on political and religious viewpoints or the absence of such views. Even on Facebook we classify ourselves as 'fans' of different things. Many of us feel enormous pressure to belong to a specific subtype.

I have always had a hard time giving myself completely over to one way of thinking and because of that I tend to straddle many different groups. I am a "stay at home Mom" and yet I also volunteer/work as an ordained minister. I am pretty liberal socially but very conservative theologically. I buy local and organic foods and recycle, but I will also buy paper plates when serving a crowd and spend way too much time driving all over Austin in my minivan.

The one belief that I do hold to and will not stray from is that my relationship with God is more important than anything else in this world. Because I believe that, it follows that my relationships with others are also more important than whether or not we agree on abortion rights, gun laws, or health care reform. We are meant to be relational people just as God, in whose image we are made, is relational. The mystery of the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - three and yet one, shows that the very nature of God is relational.

What we share above everything is our humanness: Our need to be in community with others. Yes, it might be easier to only be in community with people who think exactly like us, but where are the open arms of Christ in that?

The Old Testament book of Numbers speaks of community rules being the same for both the Israelite and the foreigner because they are "the same before God" (Numbers 15:13). In fact, throughout the Old Testament, we are continually reminded that we are all in this together - we live and die together as a community. We are convicted and forgiven of our sins as a community. (Meaning we can't stand by and watch harmful things happen and claim innocence because we didn't participate.) We are all here to work out our lives together, whatever our beliefs or actions. Separating ourselves into cliques does nothing other than encourage us to be prideful and vain because it encourages us to believe that we are better than someone else. Underneath everything, we are all the same - broken people longing to be accepted and loved. At Live Oak, we believe it is important to love everyone and develop relationships with everyone even if it is uncomfortable and difficult.


"If you have gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care - then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep spirited friends."
- Philippians 2:1