We all know this person, right? You know, the one who drives you out-of-your-skull crazy? You’re positive their purpose on earth is to pester, annoy, and frustrate you.
Let me tell you of such a person. A long time ago, I worked in an office situated on a hot factory floor. Our little office had air conditioning. One day a mysterious phenomenon began to take place.
Everyone in my office would slowly get burning hot, check the thermostat, and realize that someone had moved the temperature setting up drastically. Who would do that? Was this some type of prank? We formed a posse and went after the varmint. We questioned all 10 people in our little office.
No one would fess up. Using some amateur spying techniques, we caught the culprit. It was a man from another office who didn’t even work in our space. We were incredulous. He would come into our office each day to retrieve his mail and tweak the thermostat.
When asked why he would induce such suffering among his fellow employees, he said, “I just wanted to save the company some money.” Our collective jaws dropped. He could have at least asked us what we thought on the matter. While I don’t understand his logic, he genuinely believed he was doing right for the company. We informed him that his ‘good’ efforts led to much discomfort for others.
There is a parallel in our American society today. While we don’t seem to lack for opinions about what will create the ‘right’ environment to promote human flourishing, we do seem to lack the ability to take the thoughts and opinions of other people into consideration.
Instead, we seem fixated on forcing a change in the environment no matter what others think. Examples of this are all around us. Instead of passing new laws, people use the courts to force change.
Organizations engage in a type of intellectual terrorism forcing people to accept new ideas by using economic pressure (boycotts), shaming and name-calling to change the environment. Hollywood and other media outlets have reached consensus about what the ‘right’ environment should be, and they use their influence to make those of us that are not on board to feel backward or ‘out of the mainstream.”
Where is the “mainstream” and how can I find it? I always thought we found the mainstream after asking people to see what the majority thinks. It seems to me that people increasingly don’t want to do this hard work.
Instead, some want to implement the change they think is right and force everyone else to fall in line. I don’t know exactly what to call it, but I don’t think this way of doing things is moving us anywhere good. Some even go so far as to assume that disagreement on a given topic is equal to hate.
Personally, while I disagree with many people and ideas, I hate no one. Let me also say that the church has often failed to hear the other side of an argument and take the thoughts of others into consideration. Inasmuch as I represent the church, I would humbly ask you to forgive us.
The Apostle Paul wrote this, “Therefore, knowing the fear (awe, reverence) of the Lord, we persuade others.” (2 Corinthians 5:11). As a follower of Jesus Christ, there are things that are happening in our culture that I do not agree with.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, my job is to state what the Bible says through reasoned discussion, not through any form of manipulation or shaming. I trust that a God who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us really wants what’s best for us.
My hope is that we can be a people who can respectfully state our case on a matter and learn to agree to disagree.
Scott Tiede is Senior Pastor of Delaware Bible Church.