Drop the Mic
To me for almost 5 months Wednesday means a visit from Frank Switzer. Frank serves as the lead pastor at Redemption Arcadia. Frank is smart, educated, well informed, thoughtful and articulate. Our conversations repeatedly cover the topics of, family, theology, church, movies, books and the “state of the union.” Recently we find ourselves returning to the current cultural challenge in holding an exchange of ideas with someone who holds an opposing point of view. While we quickly affirm one another’s ability to successfully navigate those treacherous waters, we lamented the fact that is rarely the case with everyone else (my tongue plant in my cheek).
Last week during our “meeting” the topic surfaced again. On that occasion I went beyond simply lamenting the condition we both encounter, and I was rambling when Frank interrupted and asked if he could read me some of his reflections on the matter. Well, I was winded from my drawn-out pronouncement, so I welcomed the breather. Frank opened his iPad and began to read. As he read, I recognized that he had identified a pre-existing condition that impedes almost all attempts at real discussion. A few days later I sent Frank a text expressing my reaction to his insights. I then asked if he would develop the “musings” further so I could post it here. He agreed. So, meet my first ever “guest blogger,” Frank Switzer.
“Drop The Mic”
We live in a “drop the mic” culture. And that is just SO sad. Some of you know what I mean. The rest of you, you’ll catch on.
A “drop the mic” culture rarely thinks, discusses, debates, and learns. Rather, we all look for that one thing to say in a conversation that shuts down all discussion, then we metaphorically drop the mic and walk away …
The “Drop-The-Mic” culture demonstrates one of our deep-seeded problems of idolatry and identity. It is common knowledge that the greatest idol in the American Church today is politics. And it is obvious that so many of us desperately want our identity to be found in our cause and correct political position. But now we’ve found that’s simply not enough. Our new and true identity is now found in the INTENSITY with which we hold these political positions:
“I believe this so strongly and it is so much a part of who I am that I don’t even want to talk to you. I’ll simply say something that shuts down the conversation, then “drop the mic.” All done!”
Here is one of the prime examples of this culture, especially manifested in the Church: Immigration is a drop-the-mic topic.
Now be prepared. Take a deep breath and count to ten. What you are about to read will offend people on “both sides” of this issue. I realize that, and you can feel free to tell TOM all about it! But just be ready because no matter what “side” of this issue you are on, this will make you uncomfortable.
I’ve found that if I talk about how the Bible tells us repeatedly of God’s love for the stranger, immigrant, alien, or sojourner, I am met with, “We are a nation of laws!”
BOOM! MIC DROP! DISCUSSION OVER.
Well, guess what? Israel was a nation of laws too!
BOOM! Another mic that needs repair!
AND, Jerusalem had a wall around it!
It seems that God was all over the place on this. And so are we. Israel had laws. Israel had walls. Israel was a nation. Israel had borders. And Israel was supposed to love the immigrant.
So few people know how to live in tension anymore.
So few people know how to give and take.
So few people know how to think and ponder and debate and discuss and learn from each other – especially each other’s differences. I believe we were better and smarter and more interesting when we weren’t so focused on dropping mics everywhere.
The reality is: We have to have laws, and they should be obeyed and observed. But the reality is also that every human being is made in the image of God, has dignity, and from the Christ-follower should receive mercy and compassion. We need policy. But we also need compassion and understanding in the moment we encounter another person.
Just as Christ-followers are called, the Israelites also had to live in tension with God. They had Laws, from God. And God was cool with nations and borders. In fact, He “invented” them. But God also said that His people were to love the stranger, the alien, the immigrant – the one different from them.
The one entering their land … crossing their border.
What do we do with that? It’s not that simple, is it?
Welcome to faithful living – IT’S LIVING IN TENSION!
Do you want to drop a mic, or do you want a genuine hearing from the person who doesn’t agree with you?
Here’s one of the problems:
All of us are correct in what we affirm – The pro-immigrant people are correct in affirming the immigrant’s dignity, need, and image-bearing. The pro-law people are correct in affirming that we need order, not chaos, and we need a better system for immigration. We are correct in what we affirm.
But we are wrong in what we deny – The pro-immigrant people are wrong when they deny the importance and respect of the laws – even though they don’t like the laws. And the pro-law people are wrong when they deny the need and dignity of the sojourner.
Honestly? It’s really … weird … because on this issue I feel like I don’t have a place. Most pastors feel this way. I’m wrong and uncompassionate with the pro-immigration people. And I’m wrong and stupid with the pro-law people.
And remember, this issue is just one example. Gender? Sex? Abortion? Poverty? Justice? We’re dropping mics everywhere!
A great many people come to church or faith or Jesus with the expectation that it will eliminate tension, friction, and/or the need to think and wrestle in life. But in fact, living as a faithful person of God requires tension, thinking, wrestling, and wisdom. When Jesus said, “Be in the world but not of the world,” I’m not sure how anyone can interpret that call as “tension-free.”
Immigration is not the only issue we have, have had, or will have tension and friction over. But one thing remains sure: The faithfulness, wisdom, and grace that God has given us. We need that now more than ever.
I’m Tom Shrader and I endorse this message, except for the “you can feel free to tell TOM about it” part.
Talk again soon.