William White, early 20th century journalist, noted that friends often called him wishy-washy. But he wisely noted his “affliction” was the ability to see both sides of an argument.
To see both sides requires a great deal of work, intellectually and emotionally. In walking a balance beam, it’s much easier to step off to either side. Maintaining balance is a dynamic process of constant effort; we never reach stasis. On the balance beam, progress is defined, not by deciding to which side we’ll jump, but moving ahead, carefully maintaining our balance by refusing to step off to either side.
Even as I write these words, calling for kindness and regard for one another, I know that some of my colleagues are repulsed by such thoughts – both liberal and conservative, who conceive of victory only as the “foe’s” vanquishing.
But there are no foes to vanquish, only the self!
I don’t know the answer to our current dilemma, but I believe that both sides are peopled with women and men of good faith and good character, each opening their Text with prayer and love, each striving to discern the will of God, each taking the Text in hand and heart, working with it, interpreting it, and seeking to live for the Christ revealed in its story.
That some should be a Peter or a James, that some should be a Paul or Timothy, is no surprise, yet we are one great fellowship of love, and for such love the world waits.
That may be the greatest test we face, a world waiting for our light to shine, for us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Our current points of view ring hollow in the world’s ear, no matter how righteous they may feel to us, no matter how stridently we offer our “truth” as the whole truth and nothing but the truth and characterize those who challenge us as deluded, faithless and fraudulent.
The world waits to see an alternative – “the whole creation groans.”
Are we willing to embrace one another in order to show the world that our citizenship is in heaven, or will we continue to take refuge in our little castles, seeing one another as enemy and rejoicing in our paltry victories?
We have a lot of growing up to do. The Spirit is ready, and Jesus is in our midst – it is our Father’s will to give us the kingdom, if we but surrender our wills and embrace one another in the greater love that Jesus offers. “Love one another as I have loved you” remains the task and the test for those who claim the name Christian.