It just feels good being right. Having the right answer, being correct, being the most astute, identifying with the right group, being a part of the “true Church,” being the best. Everyone likes to come out on top.
But two things happen to us when we win. We feel great and we think we are better than our competitors.
Too bad we can’t confine these feelings to board games. Unfortunately, the desire to be “better than” is pervasive.
Church history is a showcase for the concept. Every council, every split, every denomination has its own brand of being “better than.” It has been going on for over 2,000 years. That’s why there are so many sects and denominations.
The result of our being “better than” is arrogance and exclusion. In the context of the Christian faith, these attitudes are nothing short of bizarre.
We have a redeemer and leader who loved the losers and infuriated those who felt they were superior to most of humanity. He lifted the oppressed and pronounced judgment on the oppressors. In old school preacher speak, “He comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.” He was the friend of sinners and the thorn in the side of the so-called righteous “better thans.”
There has always been a dissonance in Christendom that has caused people to point the finger of hypocrisy back at the church. The inner conflict rages between truth and love, the desire to be right, and the mandate to love.
Christians have defended the faith and called sin “sin,” becoming the self-appointed guardians, not only of the church, but of “the American way of life.” They have pushed a package of values that were a mishmash of biblical teaching, nationalism, traditionalism, and things that made them feel comfortable.
And they have made no secret about what they are against. Their message was received loud and clear. The church is a place for Norman Rockwell-esque families. Only.
Their defending the faith, offended their founder. The desire to be right, led them into error.
They neglected the one thing that is the most important thing, to love God and others. Instead of loving others like they love themselves, they loved themselves so much, that they rejected those who were not like them.
I was one of them, and I still have my issues with loving people out of my comfort zone.