by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia.News and Member of General Synod
It seems our world is getting even more divided by issues that create irreconcilable differences between hitherto relatively peaceful sections of Western society. There is a growing desire for what can only be likened to divorce, where one side or party no longer wants to live in the same space as the other. This is becoming increasingly difficult given that they are committed either financially or geographically to living in the same city, town, village or church.
Be it Brexit, Trump, social policy or sexuality debates – the issues are countless. However, more often than not they tend to be a front for a far deeper difference founded in fundamentally opposing world views.
We are now seeing a “Clash of Civilisations” no longer just between East and West, as put forward by Samuel P. Huntington in his classic text for anyone studying international relations, but within our civilisations. This is creating a far more worrying fissure that threatens the very bedrock of so much of what we hold so dear.
These opposing world views go to the core of who we see ourselves to be and as such are a key to our identity. There is much that these opposing views tend to hold in common, namely:
- Both sides believe the other is wrong – fundamentally wrong.
- Both sides believe the other is ignorant of the “true facts”.
- Both sides believe the other is dangerous – creating instability and chaos.
However, there is increasingly the advent of a new dimension which is a far greater cause for concern – and which has yet to be named given the enormity of the size of the ‘elephant’ it represents.
It seems to me that the most dangoeus dimensiom of all, as with the “Clash of Civilisations” text, is that both sides are now invoking a divine dimension – that is, that each now believe that God is on their side. That they alone hold the true Christian view and that the other is therefore representing a view that is “anti-Christ”. Put more simply, that the other side is evil.
It is this I believe that is behind the growing tendency to “other” people.
Indeed, it is this belief – that one side is Godly and the other is demonic – that has led to policies and practices that have shocked the world in their inhumane treatment of people who “do not fit certain select criteria”.
Be it the way we welcome or fear the stranger in our midst, or embrace or reject those who are different to ourselves, there appears to be a growing trend to demonise “the other”, the one who is different.
The most frightening thing is that this is happening amongst Christians who arguably should know better.
I’ve been reflecting on why sincere Christians are doing this….and I can only believe it is because they see “the other” as someone who is outside of God’s love and care. Who represents a threat to the Gospel and is what God warns us to ‘guard against’ – they perceive this threat in real people rather than in spiritual powers.
But is this really Biblical?
Do we really have people who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’ – those who have the right skin colour, the right postcode, the right sexuality. Those who have prayed ‘the right prayer’, believe ‘the right thing’, live ‘the right way’. Members of the ‘lucky spiritual sperm club’ – born in the right place at the right time and into the right church.
Is this really the teaching of our God of unconditional love who we worship? Is this truly what Jesus teaches in His sacrificial death that ensures that we all have access to God because of what He has done, once and for all?
How then should we determine which view is right and which is wrong – if indeed we ever can?
Well I for one believe the answer is plain and simple….which ‘side’ is the side of love? Or perhaps it’s easier to discern the opposite – which side is the view based on fear?
Unconditional love has no limits, no boundaries, no borders.
It loves all, embraces all, forgives all. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
It Just Loves…