There’s something about the word, bigot, that I don’t particularly care for. It’s an ugly word—a word filled with hate to describe those who hate. But it’s oxymoronic if you think about it.
Aren’t those who accuse others of bigotry, in fact, living examples of the definition?
Intolerance, even of the intolerant, is still intolerance, right?
Quite plainly, I’m not a bigot. But for some reason, it has become common-place for our culture to respond to any type of opposition with vile words, especially when referring to the conservative right. But truthfully, I think we’ve inadvertently brought it on ourselves.
I don’t claim to have answers to these deeply complex issues, but what I can provide is perspective. Hopefully, it will cause us to rethink the way we engage our fellow human beings who share a different opinion.
A Social Battlefield
Our grandfathers took cover in foxholes, but we fight our wars on a digital battlefield. We hide behind our screens, and throw grenades at our brothers and sisters—pious, self-righteous grenades aimed at defending God, as well as distasteful, mocking grenades aimed at destroying anyone with a different opinion.
Honestly, I think many of us have been fooled into thinking that this isn’t a war and maybe we’re naive to think that the words don’t have repercussions. But this new-age war is slowly eroding the foundation of unity that our country was founded upon.
While it’s certainly not wrong to speak our mind, (and this wonderful country affords us the freedom to do so) to give into the viciousness of argument is beyond human.
It might take considerable loss of life for us to slow down long enough to realize what is really happening, but restoration will begin when we are willing to move back into real relationships and quit hiding behind our screens.
Our Desire to Defend God
For the longest time, I thought that it was my duty to defend God. If He died for me and I wasn’t willing to stand up for Him in front of others, then my faith was worthless. And while Jesus did command his followers that if we denied Him, He would deny us, I feel like we’ve taken it a bit out of context.
In time, I’ve learned that my desire to defend God is actually wrapped up in my desire to be right. Instead of defending Him, I’m really trying to defend and justify myself. The difference is subtle, and unrecognizable to most, but that tricky space between defending God and defending ourselves has caused incalculable damage.
You see, those subtleties, the ones where the devil is viciously at work, are best understood in the intimacy of a relationship.
When my wife and I first had our identical twin sons, I would often confuse them. In time, I have come to know each son personally. Each subtle difference—his laugh, his tone, his eyes—has become more familiar as our relationship has grown.
I think it’s like that with God. The more time we spend with Him, the more we are able to understand the subtleties of His nature and how we’re actually living. We will only begin to grow when we’re willing to get really honest about that gap.
As Christians, our duty is less about defending God and more about letting Him reveal those subtleties and eradicate them altogether. When we become close with Him, we can’t help but become more like Him and then, our lives will be a living defense of His goodness.
It’s often that the best intentions of the “religious” have carved the deepest wounds into those that they’re trying to influence. In turn, our culture discredits God altogether. And I honestly don’t blame them.
But instead of giving them justification for dodging God, why not live in such a way that makes Him irresistible. The more we’re willing to lay down our own self-absorption for His truth, the less we feel inclined to be offended, entitled, or hateful. And there’s true freedom in that. For us, and for those He’s called us to influence.
I’ll leave you with a simple, two-word phrase.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive…and seated us with him…so that He might show us the riches of His grace in kindness toward us.” —Ephesians 2:4-7
Christians may not always be rich in mercy, but God is.
If we want to cure bigotry, we must become a bigot toward our own selfish nature—intolerant of its efforts to draw us into an emotional battle we weren’t meant to fight. It isn’t us vs. them, it’s us vs. us. Until we become intolerant of our own sinful nature, we will never be truly free, and we’ll be rendered ineffective at becoming His expression in the world.
The truth is, we share the good news with others by becoming the good news in their lives.
And that has never been more needed than right now.