Depending on which news outlet you subscribe to, we recently either celebrated or bemoaned President Trump’s first year in office. You can read about either the accomplishments he’s achieved or the lies and scandals he’s perpetuated. It seems like our society is losing any semblance of a middle ground, a common area where people with opposing viewpoints can work together for the overall good. President Trump is the perfect example of this. He is the greatest lightning rod in a generation, either a savior who’s draining the swamp or an abomination not fit for office. We refuse to allow his to be a complicated man with both assets and flaws.
The general discourse politically has devolved to speaking past each other, not trying to understand or find common ground but simply entrenching ourselves deeper into our camp while lobbing verbal bombs at the other side from within the safety of our own parapets. The first year of Trump’s presidency has most of us entrenching even deeper into our preconceived notions, and that’s not a good thing.
And yet it’s not that different than how the church has interacted with society over the past several decades. It seems as if all common ground has been lost (in direct disregard for 1 Corinthians 9:22). Take my blog posts for example. If you read some of the comment threads on honest discussions I’m trying to provoke, you’ll find that many folks don’t want an honest discussion, much less be open to the possibility that they may have the wrong idea. Too many would rather name call and lob word bombs at each other. (I tried to interact with a few of the prolific commenters of dissent on my blog. They didn’t want to discuss anything. They wanted me to admit that I’m wrong about everything and that Christianity is a hoax. You can’t have an honest discussion when one side refuses to listen).
Churches are just as guilty as the rest of society when it comes to the dissolution of common ground. It’s too easy for us to hide behind the safety of our walls and declare that those who don’t agree with us are ignorant and going hell anyways. We’ve lost relationship and connection with our community, so we resort to name-calling, much like we see in media and society today. When you take human interaction out of the context of actual human relationships, things quickly devolve into what you see in American society today. As the church, there’s a lesson here. Maybe we would be better served to do less talking and more loving, to have less worship services inside the walls of the church and spend more time providing services outside the walls of the church. The other side becomes a lot less sinister when you get to know them, but you have to actually have to get to know them. It’s called common ground.