Have you ever said something so thoughtless and stupid that, as the thoughts are leaving your mouth and your brain is running to catch up to them, you see the words escape your comic word bubble and all you can do is watch painfully as they meet their intended ears? If only we could swallow up and eat back our words sometimes. If only we could breath those syllables back into our lungs and start over. Unfortunately much of the time, instead of breathing those words back into our mouth, we find our foot has been there all along.
I see a lot of feet in mouths on my Facebook feed where my “friends” type up their well thought out beliefs, sometimes editing them, then pressing “post,” ignoring the taste the toe jam lodged between their back teeth.
OK, I do it too. We all have beliefs. Some are stronger than others but every person believes passionately in something. Whether it’s God vs. Allah, organic or cloth diapers or whether it’s sin or not or to make weed legal or keep it in the dark, everyone has beliefs. Facebookers constantly share those beliefs through articles, status posts or by “liking” another person’s status. Beliefs are good. They ground you. They give you goals. They can become rituals which can allow you to remember your self worth and why you believe what you believe.
However, beliefs can quickly turn into fundamentals. We all know a “fundy” or two or three. Perhaps it’s you (but it’s hard to see when that foot’s hanging out). Perhaps it’s your parents or your kid’s friend’s mom or that person you keep wanting to “unfriend.” But we all know someone who have made a religion out of their beliefs and will try to convert you at all costs, regardless of how abrasive it is. And truthfully, it can really hurt. People who shove their beliefs through “anonymous” written words down stranger’s throats, no matter how good or great they are, can cause damage and pain and hurt which can be hard to repair.
Words can bring life, color, hope, healing, strength, encouragement, and love to people. Our words can be a soothing balm in the midst of great ache. However, our words can also cut, sting, wound, manipulate and rip apart trust and relationship. Words are powerful and sharp and when used without thinking and without grace can cause more damage than we realize.
Our beliefs, those things we know are good and feel called to share with others, are meant to be shared over trusting and honest relationships. Our beliefs are meant to be shared with love and humility, while recognizing that perhaps we don’t have every area of life figured out and maybe, just maybe, we might have something to learn from our friends. Can we agree that perhaps we should practice coming into a conversation with grace and love and humility? Can we agree that declaring to another person or group of people that what they believe is wrong should only be done through relationship with grace and love and humility? Because, often times, our foot has been hanging out of our mouths and we never saw it there.
If you look at the life of Jesus in the Bible what you begin to see is Jesus inviting people into a new way of thinking and believing and living. You see Jesus pulling people into this new way of living only after he has had a physical encounter with that person. Jesus shows people grace and love, shows them non-judgement and invites them to leave the path they were on behind to begin this new way of non-judgement, grace and love.
The people Jesus does rebuke are the Pharisees, the fundamentalists who were forcing their beliefs of what they thought God wanted down everyone’s throats.
I think there might be an inner Pharisee in all of us and Jesus keeps calling people back to a place of humility, grace and love.
There will always be something else on Facebook that you won’t agree with or that you think is bad or wrong or plain annoying and you will be faced once again with the choice to confront “friends” and their “friends” (complete strangers) on their lifestyle choices. Don’t. Forcing beliefs on strangers and “friends” via typed symbols on a screen has unlikely ever persuaded another person to change. Only through relationships built on mutual love, grace and humility can a person change. And maybe that person is you.
PREVIOUSLY in FAITH-Y: