Of course it is.
That’s the very nature of ideas, isn’t it? Ninety percent of our ideas are destined to fail. Thomas Edison completed over 9,000 experiments before he perfected the light bulb. But when he hit on the right idea, it changed everything.
This post isn’t about whether the idea is bad or not. It’s about the person who says it’s terrible.
Social media has made it really easy to attack the ideas of others, hasn’t it? People get bold when they can criticize without looking you in the eye. Just look at your Facebook feed.
Just last week, I was on Facebook and a leader I follow shared his thoughts on the fall out after the Grand Jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. In his post, he threw out a few ideas about how the church could begin to bridge the racial divide in communities like Ferguson.
The ideas weren’t perfect. There wasn’t any kind of detailed plan for how to implement them. He was just trying to move the ball forward.
When I scrolled through the comments, I was amazed at the level of attack from what I would guess was a “Christian” audience.
There wasn’t much listening.
Most responders weren’t there for a constructive debate.
People were lodged into their positions, talking past each other.
As I read the post, I thought, “This is where the heart of America is right now.”
Everyone has an opinion, but very few people want to listen.
But if we refuse to hear one another, how will we ever move forward?
What’s really going on?
This article isn’t about who’s right or wrong. I’m not sure there is an easy answer to that question. It’s not really about racial tensions, either. Honestly, we could be talking about any number of issues that our society needs to address.
I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t have freedom to share our opinions or debate. Honest, open-minded communication is one of the keys to creating lasting solutions. We need to see the big picture, with all of it’s ugliness, truth and complexity and that only comes from real conversation that we won’t always like or agree with.
My point is this:
We’re being played.
Even as believers, we often fail to see the bigger picture of what’s really happening, and our pride causes us to be complicit in the enemy’s plans.
Think about it: as Kingdom-minded believers, our mandate is to create change – to bring the world closer to the image God has in mind. We are problem-solvers by nature. And the enemy knows it.
So what does he do?
Appeal to our pride and our religion.
Religion has nothing to do with spirituality. Religious spirits thrive on right vs. wrong, dogma and violence. They love debate without resolution. At it’s heart, religion attacks ideas.
Isn’t that what’s happening?
Debate…attack…debate…defend. Black and white; never gray.
And never a solution.
Who’s the real enemy?
As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the book Catching Fire from the Hunger Games trilogy. Just before Katniss is about to go to the arena to fight to the death against other tributes forced into the games by the Capitol, her mentor Haymitch tells her this:
“Katniss, when you are in the arena, you just remember who the true enemy is”
At the end of the book, with arrow drawn to take out her ally Finnick, she remembers Haymitch’s words and takes out the arena instead.
If you step back to see the bigger picture, you can see the same dynamics in play.
Rich, poor, black, white, Republican, Democrat, charismatic, evangelical…
Remember, who the real enemy is.
If we’re going to move the dial on any of the important issues of our generation, the first thing we must do is examine our hearts for any traces of religion.
Listen to James:
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 NLT
Whether you are a spiritual person or not, you’re acting religious when you feel like everyone who doesn’t think like you is wrong.
My friend on Facebook had an idea. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but in all of the religious posturing in the comments I didn’t see anyone offer a different solution.
It’s so much easier to be a critic than it is to be a creator.
A couple of thoughts moving forward:
Before we respond to people sharing their ideas about how to create real change, we would do well to ask ourselves if we’re willing to be a part of the solution. If not, we probably shouldn’t say anything at all. Listen to James again:
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. – James 1:19 NLT
We would do well to keep this in mind. Let’s not make the enemy’s job easier.
And if you’re brave enough to venture into the religious arrows that are flying back and forth to share something new with the world, just remember this:
There’s a part of the world that will bite you, but there is another part of the world that is desperately searching for what you bring to the table. Don’t let the arrows deter you.
Sure, your first ideas might be terrible. Just ask Edison. The fact that you know that is a good thing. You won’t defend your idea at the cost of a better one.
And if more people like you join together, we might just get somewhere.