When You Become What You Hate

I was in a situation not that long ago where I felt completely out of place and "other." 

It was an odd feeling to imagine that everyone else who was there seemed to be on the same page, while I felt like I wasn't even reading from the same book.  At one point, someone actually asked me, "Why are you here, exactly?"

I gave a lame answer about trying to branch out, to hear different voices, to see a different perspective... but it felt like someone else saying it as the words were coming out.  Because in all honesty, what I wanted to say was, "I really have no idea why I'm here."

At one point the conversation turned toward issues where the other participants were all in theological agreement, while I couldn't have been more opposed.  In fact, I felt like there was no way for me to speak up without being attacked. 

And what they all seemed to be in agreement about was that the Christian church should be more exclusive, isolated and removed from the culture within which it is called to serve.  Which to me is heretical. Actually, no.  It's not heretical.  It's anti-Christian.  In my opinion, at least. 

I remember thinking, "This is EXACTLY why I don't like hanging out with people like this. Lesson learned. Never doing this again." 

A few days ago, I read a short little poem by Khalil Gibran that I wrote down and have been glancing at it for days: 
I have learned silence from the talkative,
toleration from the intolerant,
and kindness from the unkind.
 Yet it's strange:  I am ungrateful to these teachers.  
As I read this little poem, it slowly dawned on me how often I seek to exclude and isolate myself from those who I disagree with---especially on issues of faith, the Bible, Church and the like.  I was being exclusionary, which was the very thing I had deemed as anti-Christian.  

Richard Rohr recently wrote about this very thing: 
When any church denies itself by exclusion of anybody it's always wrong.  It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ.  
I would add the following to this quote, "When any church or any person who claims to follow Jesus..."  I need this to land on me.  I need it to permeate the way I see myself, the Church and the world. 

We all need this because if not we will become what we're railing against.   

May it be so for you today and every day from this day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


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