(Jeff Kallevig pastors Christ the King Lutheran Church in Tigard. The church is located at 11305 S.W. Bull Mountain Road. For more information, call 503-639-2789.)
When did it become culturally unacceptable for us to disagree? When did we cross the line and make angry, or even violent, responses justified when we are 'disrespected?'
From the schoolyard to the NBA, there is far less tolerance for being 'dissed' than ever before. And even in the realm of institutions, our nature has become very defensive.
The Church, specifically, seems to be a place where we have become more reactionary. And when a political candidate, movie, or even a series of children's books presents a contrary, even inflammatory, message our tendency is to respond by trying to have their message removed. How have we come to this? We are all allowed to our own opinions and belief, constitutionally if nothing else.
Here is something I believe, and you are allowed to disagree:
I believe in my heart that any rational, reasonable human being who seeks God and tries to find spiritual fulfillment will be drawn to a relationship with Jesus Christ. And I further believe any pursuit of or engagement with other faiths will only confirm that and draw that relationship closer.
It is the less reasonable person whose judgment is based on a stereotype, a bad experience or example, or an unfortunate time in the history of the church rather than honest inquiry, who fails to find the fulfillment they are seeking.
For example, it is truly short-sighted to base your opinion of God on the behavior of humans, even if they are the Church. There are truly examples of Christian people making bad decisions and even doing bad things, but there are far more examples of the opposite if a person cares enough to look. Those should inform an understanding of God just at powerfully as the other.
I am not addressing our rights to free speech, although those apply. I am not talking about principles of religious tolerance, but those apply too.
I can only really speak from the basis of my own faith, a faith in a God who throughout history has continually sought to draw us into a relationship with himself. Although they disagreed with him, Jesus didn't separate himself from the Pharisees; he ate with them, repeatedly (Luke 7:36).
He didn't condemn those who refused to follow him, he sent them on their own way in peace (Mark 10:21-22). And he also didn't change his message, or purpose, even when he was pressured to do so by his closest friends (Mark 8:33). If I am going to claim to be a follower of Jesus, I have to take these things seriously and try to do the same.
I believe that Jesus is the answer to what we are all seeking, and the direction we are all being drawn.
And I don't believe a movie or series of children's books can do anything but help prove my point.