Recently, a friend of mine shared an article she “liked” on Facebook. It was a diatribe on why Christians shouldn’t be nice to, or even tolerate, people they disagree with. It was so vitriolic toward its stated enemy: “nice Christians,” that I literally felt sick to my stomach while reading (my peanut butter cup & Diet Pepsi brunch might not have helped).
In the post, written by someone who is apparently a pretty popular Christian blogger, these “Nice Christians” were lambasted as “usually ignorant of scripture” and reduced to an image of Barney-level-nicety. Literally — he posted a picture of the friendly purple dinosaur and even mockingly wrote out an entire stanza of the children’s show theme song. I have so many problems with this that I have to use numbers (glad Barney taught me how to count!):
- Really? Nice Christians must only be nice because none of them have ever read the Bible? That’s as ridiculous as it is insulting. Let me pull a Wikipedia here for a second: source citation?
- When you attack someone’s credibility rather than the argument, it’s called an “ad hominum fallacy” and does nothing to discuss the actual issue.
- When you take it even further and reduce your opponent to a caricature, this is a “straw man fallacy” and all it does is reduce conversation to name calling. (The Bible would have been a much different read if Jesus had busted out “I know you are, but what am I?!”)
- If you’re going to call names, since when is it a bad thing to embody the qualities we try to teach children, like Barney is known for?! How twisted does your view of how God wants us to treat other people have to be that you think Barney is somehow the opposite of how we should treat people?
OK, the world of Christendom contains opposing viewpoints. We are all sure that we are right. It’s hard for me to fathom that someone thought that argument was right…but even when we are right, can we take a step back and ask the surprisingly glaring question: what good is being right?
When I was a kid, I didn’t care about getting A’s in school. I was too young to understand why it was important to try hard, but luckily the local mini-golf course offered free games and video game tokens for report cards with A’s on them. When that started, I started caring. As an adult, I don’t remember a single mini-golf score or what video games I gleefully played for free, but I’m glad that I tried harder now because looking back, I see the value of being educated.
In Hebrews, the Bible tells us that we should be teachers of God’s word, but instead we still need to be taught. In fact, the author goes as far as to say “you should be eating solid food, instead you still need milk!” From the onset of creation, throughout the Bible, we read stories of people who should have understod what God was trying to do, but they just never got it.
The Bible is a book (ok, series of books, poems, and letters) designed to help us “get it,” and because we don’t understand even that much, the author of Hebrews basically has to say “hey you, here’s some free tokens, you should be handing out tokens to kids by now, you should ‘get it,’ but you don’t, so here you go!”
Let’s be clear, if being right were a virtue, being a “know it all” would be a compliment, not an insult.
As Christians, we have to realize that being right is not a virtue, it’s a prerequisite. We should understand what God wants for us, so we can better be God’s agents of Change. The Pharisees knew more scripture word-for-word than most Christians today could even locate in the Bible. Studying and teaching the scripture was their life’s work. They were never once distracted from that work by new Game of Thrones episodes or pre-football tailgating. Yet, Jesus made it clear, he just didn’t care how right they were. He cared that despite all that knowledge, they still didn’t understand.
God loves us. God wants good things for us. So when we recite the words “on earth, as it is in Heaven” we need to to remember that those aren’t just words, it’s not just a request for God’s to-do list for God to get around to one day, it’s a reminder of the life we are supposed to be living. We are called to be Christ in the world, which means it is our job to do everything we can to make this life like the big party God is trying to throw for us.
So being right is just a prerequisite…and as Hebrews explains: one we fail at constantly.
The reason being right matters is so we can know God better, live more Christlike lives, and make it “on earth as it is in heaven.” If you think being right is its own virtue…one that exists so you can sit up on high telling people you don’t have to tolerate them, that means — not only do you not “get it” and need to be given free game tokens — you fail to “get it” so badly that you take your tokens and instead of playing video games with them, you use them as projectiles to sling at people you see without tokens in their hands.