COMMENT: A good self-talking to
One of the first pieces I wrote for this space focused on self-talk. The kind of conversation I might have with myself when seeing someone standing or sitting on the street, looking worn down and asking for a contribution from my pocket to his or her hat.
Self-talk says a great deal about world-view. I can wonder how that person got into that situation and why they tolerate being in it, or wonder why our community has ‘begging for help’ on its list of acceptable responses to poverty.
Action stems from self-talk. I can toss a coin in the hat as a gesture towards rebuilding that wrecked being, and walk away with my moral responsibility discharged, or offer what I can in the moment while resolving to change our community’s response to poverty in the future.
Similarly, if I hear a statement from a “Christian” organization invoking Jesus Christ as justification for closing the gates against some folk because of sexual orientation, or gender, or some other rationale, how I react says a great deal about my own acceptance of Christ.
If my self-talk, at those times, is filled with disgust, dislike and dire-imprecations on those who bar the door in the name of Jesus, then I am not all that removed from the statements I abhor.
I have harboured those thoughts against people. In so doing, I have helped perpetuate a system based on creating scape-goats and denying access to some so that ‘we’ can be rid of those whose apostate status contaminates the ground we occupy.
It is a self-perpetuating system. Those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’ may vary: some may bar the door based on gender; some may use orientation; others may choose orthodoxy; still others – race; another cannot abide the ill; the addicted; the economically disadvantaged. The results are the same. ‘We’ are in, and ‘they’ are out.
Jesus never shut anyone out. That’s the radicality of the movement that sprang up in his name. No one is ‘out’, everyone is ‘in’. We are all in God and God is in all.
“Anything else,” my friend Ken explained to me today, “is dualism. There is no dualism in Christ.”
So, in harbouring ill will and judgmental attitudes about those who harbour ill will and judge others, I perpetuate a system of ‘ins’ and ‘outs’. Keeping alive a thought pattern and social construct that Jesus specifically and constantly taught and lived in example against.
We are told he expressed anger and exasperation with those who shut others out, and expected him to do the same. We are told he overturned the tables of an exclusive faith and blew open the doors to love so that anyone might enter in. Even exclusive, reactionary, disgusted, disliking, and dire people. People like me.
Thank God for that. Thank God for him. And thank God for pulling my head out of my darker places and bringing me into light. At this moment, anyway.