From Missio Alliance, a conversation starter. What do you think of “soft” difference?
In an article called Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter, Volf takes a look at the persecuted Christian community in the first letter to Peter and notes that the Christians at that time certainly would have been right to perceive their community to be existing in a hostile world. As Volf analyses this Christian community he says that they kept their identity by being different to the world but that this difference was a “soft difference” meaning not necessarily a weakness but a softness rather than a hard difference. A hard difference ‘operates with open or hidden pressures, manipulation and threats. A decision for soft difference on the other hand presupposes a fearlessness, people who are secure in themselves…are able to live the soft difference without fear. They have no need either to subordinate or damn others, but can allow others space to be themselves. For people who live the soft difference, mission fundamentally takes the form of witness and invitation. They seek to win others without pressure or manipulation, sometimes even ‘without a word’ (1Peter 3:1).