This guest post was written by Rich A. Rosendahl.
We all submit to social norms — some are helpful, some are unhelpful and even hateful. Often, the social norms we adhere to are rooted in ideologies that have developed over time and are connected to an affinity group that we may be part of. In other words, we are following them because people like us follow them.
For example, I am a white guy who grew up in a small town in the Midwest with a culturally Christian and conservative background. These are just a couple of examples of potential attributes from my formative years that could affect the affinity group and subsequent social norms that I adhere to for the balance of my life.
Jesus, on the other hand, seemed to have zero concern for social norms or ideologies of those who he was supposed to be like — his affinity group. When he went against these norms he was often challenged or ridiculed and eventually even killed for his approach and ideology. But none of that stopped him from having what sometimes seemed like a big F*** You attitude when people tried to pressure him to conform to their social norms.
So what was this ideology of his? It was the ideology of Love.
To this day, we fight the concept of Loving others, often to the death. Our affinity groups lead toward division, mistrust, and misunderstanding. While we are busy trying to conform to the social norms that make us part of our group, even if unintentionally, others are doing the same. This creates gaps between us and others that sometimes seem insurmountable, because Loving others feels like a rejection of our own affinity group.
But the ideology of Love — the ideology of Jesus — rejects and resists the pressure to conform to social norms and affinity groups altogether by revealing the humanity that we share, the friendships that are accessible, and the remarkable things we can achieve together. The ideology of Jesus makes room for us to be unique, including the helpful social norms we adhere to, even as it removes the need to feel threatened or fearful of the those who are uniquely different than us.
Right now, there seems to be a hell-of-a-lot of influential religious and political leaders jockeying for us to follow their ideologies — often trying to leverage what should be our affinity group to pressure us into the social norms that fit their agenda. In the midst of all of this, I am reminded that there was a leader that came before all of them who rejected these concepts altogether, showing us how to do the same and revealing the ideology of Love.
Image based on Claude Mellan’s “Face of Christ,” Public Domain.
About Rich A. Rosendahl
Rich A. Rosendahl with his wife Sheri Faye Rosendahl manage a non-profit called The Nations and have developed a network of friendships among the thousands of neighbors in their city who have arrived as refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Their passion for Loving our neighbors has also taken them overseas to Love, Serve and Learn from Refugees in places like; UNHCR Choucha Refugee Camp near the Libyan Border, Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine, the Syrian border, and Southern Iraq. Follow Rich on Facebook.