Christians need to be careful these days. People fight and bicker about politics and Christians are usually assigned to one side in the wars. Democracy includes the right to choose, and you can have any political view that you want, and you can change your mind any time, but be warned; there is a grievance industry with a script that needs bad guys, just like an old cowboy movie.
Bigoted, conservative, fundamentalist, right-wing Christians are about as common as unicorns, in my experience, but that might disappoint some grievance specialists. The script needs villains, like cowboys with black hats and bad attitudes.
Recently, in my city, a man-made a noose with a piece of rope and said “This is for you” to two Muslims and then he then sang the national anthem.
This was one man, one time, and I guess he has mental problems. The Chief of Police denounced this offensive intolerance on the front page of the news paper saying “We have zero tolerance for hate.” I respect that. He defused the situation before it became a tool for people who need intolerance to balance their script, and to advance their agenda. They want to be the good crusaders who deserve our support, and possibly our money.
A few days ago I took a coffee break at a McDonald’s restaurant with amazing service. A young woman welcomed us at the door, the food service was snappy and polite, the place was clean with plenty of seats, and the young woman checked on every table to make sure we were all happy.
Seriously, this place really exists.
It’s near a light industrial area so everyone goes there for coffee. When I stood up, I noticed that the men behind me were from India, some with turbans. Other customers were Chinese or Korean, or African. The noisiest people in the place were a crowd of retired white people. We all got to hear their jokes.
One thing was not there; I could not detect any hint of intolerance or prejudice. We all seemed happy together, and we liked our coffee buddies. Every day, tolerance breaks out in that place, with that mixed population, and no-one reports it. Any expression of intolerance and exclusion would be reported around the world, but good news doesn’t travel far.
I attend a church that is just as mixed as the restaurant. If divisions and intolerance break out in that place, I know where it will start; in the parking lot. Driving habits are cultural, and we have different ideas about how other people should park.
The church leaders have formed an ushering team with safety vests and flashlights and orange cones, and I think we are OK. Otherwise, we all worship Jesus together and no-one reports this good news.
Do you know who said this? “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed … who cares, get it out there. We don’t care who it hurts. We don’t care who we destroy. We don’t care if it’s true.” That is from an interview with Denzel Washington, the movie star. He is offended by the scripted “news” generated by respectable news sources.
Every Christian should hear him. The grievance script requires someone in the “bigoted and intolerant” slot. Intolerance is the sin of the month right now; other offences may be overlooked. If we won’t be kind and forgiving Christians, we will be slotted into the role of evil trolls with outdated ideas; bigoted conservative fundamentalist right wing Christians.
The world will paint us a different color, if it can. Our instructions are clear “Let your gentleness be obvious to everyone.” (Philippians 4:5) and “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5:22 & 23).
And I sincerely hope that you and your family find many good things from God this Christmas and in the New Year.