“And they’ll know we are Christians by our ________”. The speaker asked us to fill in the blank. The “churched” among us…those having spent a few years in the culture that is the American Church…audibly answered “love”.
We were told that we were wrong.
Two much more interesting answers were offered in its place. They will know that we are Christians by our a) Political affiliation or b) judgment. The primary method of determining if someone is a Christian in America is how they vote…or how they feel about everyone else…including how they might vote. Everyone knows “they” are always right.
Making an argument for alternate answer A & B is not difficult to do. Determining why we default to determining who’s “in” and who’s “out” is another matter. I propose four thoughts for the rationale of such tactics.
- It’s easy. When membership in the group is defined, then I can quickly make a decision on how I feel about people who belong to that group or shun membership. Its naturally assumed that everyone agrees to abide by the same rules…and if you don’t agree or abide by those same rules, then you don’t belong.
- It’s safe. Belonging in the group is really a matter of comparison. If I measure up to others in the group, then I’m ok. The trick is to never be better, or worse, than anyone else. The group establishes the standard of behavior.
- It’s reassuring. Whether one believes in absolute truth or not, people still gravitate toward a sense of right and wrong. Usually I’m right…and you’re wrong. Ever met someone who bragged on being a part of a group that emphasized how wrong they were?
- It’s liberating: At first glance it seems strange to think of abiding within the constraints of a group as freeing. A closer examination reveals how the individual may abstain from personal choice and individual responsibility is transferred to the group.