I had an experience in my family some years ago that led me to this story. You know how people can go quiet and either quit or slow communications? Often times, those on the other end start making up explanations for why the communication has changed pace? These explanations usually involve fear and judgement. You know the ones. Similarly, you know how people can see the way others live their lives and make up explanations for behavior they may not understand? These explanations also usually involve fear and judgement. Yes, you know the ones. All of this guesswork leads to a tangle of emotions and a lot of division. The division starts the minute we stop inquiring, and start with the “them over there” guesswork. Think about how often this happens in our families, our work relationships, and well … just look at politics today. We retreat to our corners, point in a direction, parlay some guesswork, launch a strategy based in self-preservation, and come out prepared to fight at the slightest perceived provocation. Once this dynamic is set in motion, it can be hard for either party to pull out. Fear and pride play central roles.
I’m a fan of unflinching honesty. Not everyone is, or needs to be. What we do need to be is curious. We need to be curious about those with whom we interact. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it brings “brothers and sisters” in Christ closer. I’m not suggesting the nosy brand of curiosity. I’m suggesting the empathic brand. I’m suggesting granting benefit of doubt in situations that too often are subject to jumping to conclusions. Here’s the deal. The explanations, the judgements you’ve made up may actually be true. Some might not be. It’s worth finding out. Either way, once we get curious and inquire, we can very often understand a reflection of ourselves in those we’re in relationship with.
Why was Jesus a freak? In addition to shining too brightly, he transcended even the need for giving benefit of the doubt. He granted Grace.
We’re all freaks, each of us. We all have “our ways”, we are flawed, we screw up, we fall down, we lash out, we might not look right, our feet stink, we make others uncomfortable with our shine, we are too loud, too quiet, too Catholic, too liberal, too evangelistic, etc. I saw a post on Facebook recently where you could “check out” a human from a certain public library. The idea being that you take the time to sit and learn the other person’s story. Our differences are our gifts to one another. How rich would we all be?! Let’s be a freaky family!
For by the grace of God given to me I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgement, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith and a purpose designed for service. For just as in one physical body we have many parts, and these parts do not all have the same function or special use, so we, who are many are one body in Christ, and individuals we are parts of one another. -Romans 12:3-5
The Church is intended to be a freaky family. As a body of believers, it’s both a whole thing, and an ecosystem that makes up a whole. It requires diversity. This diversity, these differences, and our ability to form a something whole out of them … it’s the glue that truly strengthens us. Grace is a glue.