A lot of times I get this crazy table-flipping empowerment from Christian blogs and sermons that tell me “I’m above all this” and “You go accept yourself” and “Forget what anyone else thinks” and “They’re holding you back” and “Screw the haters!” — when underneath there’s an insidious hidden language that’s really saying, “You are God’s favorite and everyone else is just against you.”
This sort of bizarre, cult-like, categorical thinking always appeals to my flesh, and I fall for it.
I suppose I can understand it, because certainly there are a lot of haters and we’d be wise to filter out false voices. But I think we’re often too scared to hear criticism, too lazy to discern what is right, and too prideful to consider when we’re wrong — so we toss out any “opposition” and continually affirm ourselves as the most important person in the room. We use words like “enemy” and “strongholds” and “negativity” when just maybe God is actually trying to rebuke us from serious error.
All this egotistical theology is disguised as inspiration and it works for a few seconds. But the end result is a self-applauding, me-versus-you, superiority complex that shuts down any disagreements or honest questions. I’ve hung out with groups like this, and I want to be gracious here: but it was always disgusting.
Maybe I’m undermining my own point by saying so, but I really just hurt for them. They could not see the destructive divisions they were causing. If a sermon wasn’t up to par, then instant mockery. If a Christian’s faith looked different at all, then immediate ridicule. If it was a megachurch, then constant hate.
It’s tough to please a triumphalist attitude, because the second you disagree, you’re just a hater. As long as you agree, you’re a “friend” and “you really know me” and “no one else gets a say.”
But I remember in Galatians 2, Paul opposed Peter to his face. There’s no indication that Peter and Paul were friends. Paul was formerly a Christian-murdering terrorist while Peter had been with Jesus for all three years of his ministry and had just begun his first megachurch — so Peter really had no reason to listen to Paul.
Instead, Peter repented of his own wrong in front of his own church. He listened, NOT because Paul was a friend, but because Paul was right. Peter could’ve easily said, “God is on my side and you’re just a jealous little hater” — but Peter was not butt-hurt about the whole thing.
Peter did not use “God’s unconditional love” as a one-sided argument in defense of his own position. Because Peter remembered: God loves Paul too, and God loves everyone, and other people can be right, and very often we need others to see our blind spots and set us on the truth again.
If you are blocking out other people in your life because they’ve said some conflicting opinions, it’s very much worth looking into again.
You can keep saying “It’s between me and God” and you can keep plugging your ears, but that will only hurt you. It will only damage the church.
I’m not saying we need to receive every voice as having the same value. You do have a right to encouragement. Of course there are some haters. God really does unconditionally love you. BUT: I hope we can have enough thoughtfulness to consider that our theology is not an isolated ivory tower of favoritism.
It’s worth taking the extra time and effort to hear the other side of things, to consider the unfamiliar, to examine the unpleasant. Together we might learn there is really only one who gets it right all the time, and we cling to Him.