What can I say, we’re humans. We’re biologically wired to wall ourselves off from things that seem foreign to us. We’re granted with defense mechanisms that are designed to keep our bodies alive. And they’re pretty reliable. They’ve kept us around for a long time, I’d say.
The only thing is, these defense mechanisms often wall us off from what’s best for us and for our neighbors. We do a lot of ridiculous things that we seem perfectly justified in doing.
Some of these mechanisms still make sense. When an Audi SUV whose driver is late to drop off his kid to school almost hits me as I walk my dog, I’m glad I naturally flinch and jump out of the way.
Others, in contrast, don’t make so much sense. Like when I think someone who has a different shade of skin is out to get me. Or when I feel offended by who someone loves or identifies as.
Case in point, organized religion. It’s a long history of personal and organizational walls being erected and torn down.
In short, our defense mechanisms wall us off from love because they wall us off from the other. Love requires vulnerability. It requires us to stand bare and defenseless before the other.
A tall order for any lizard-brained human.
I’ll add, standing before human love is child’s play to standing before God’s love.
God’s love is more radical than any of us or our churches can handle.
Even ‘progressive churches’ wouldn’t be so ‘open and affirming’ if a red hat-donning republican sauntered in with an American flag button-down, wranglers, and white tennies. (I’m with you, I’d be like, get this dude out of here, whuuuuuut?!)
If anything, we need a shield for God’s love. It’s just too much. If we actually were to accept it, all heaven — I mean, hell — would break loose.
We’d have to take care of each other, address the needs of the vulnerable and marginalized, soften the hearts of the rich, sit with those who aren’t like us, wish our enemies well, and all other kinds of insane things. We’d have to stand vulnerable before each other even more than we already do with no walls between us.
I don’t know about you, but I need a bit of a wall up (sometimes a big one). My defense mechanisms serve me quite well, thank you very much.
Dear friends, we have to have mercy on each other. Being human is quite the predicament. It takes time for our collective to release our grip on these defenses.
But we are.
It’s happening, I can see it. I can feel it. Can you?
Maybe God is breaking past these defenses against our will.
I’m so sorry for anyone who currently has to suffer from our current collective posture. But please hold fast and have hope that God is moving us in the right direction.
And while you’re around, might as well surrender to that love and make a ruckus:)
[This one goes out to my friends in the UMC who are grieving over the loss of the proposed One Church Plan to give more discretion to local churches and annual conferences in LGBTQ inclusion, ministry, and mission.]