The first was a quote on a ‘moral issue’ that a friend posted up on a social media site, which I took serious issue with. In my view the moral point it was trying to make was, in fact, immoral. The second was a longer post from another friend, lionizing a Christian from long ago, and defending (or at least excusing) this particular luminary’s – in my view – execrable views.
Christians, I find, when they get on their high horse, so often choose the wrong horse.
In my opinion.
Which is the dilemma, isn’t it? It’s so easy, in disagreeing with what I see as self-righteousness or preachiness, to get - well - self-righteous and preachy about it in return.
Later today, I was reading and writing about some of what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans. ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law’ he wrote.
Relevant to my got goat? I think so.
Paul is addressing a particular problem – differences of outlook in the Roman church on vexed questions of Jewish food laws and festivals.
Not situations we generally face in our non-Jewish church context. But the principle Paul lays down is still relevant: 'If your brother is grieved (by your actions or attitude) you are no longer walking in love'.
So sometimes we may have differences of opinion or outlook. (Indeed, in my experiences, it’s what Christians are good at.)
The crucial thing is that we can learn to ‘disagree well’.
That is, to make love our highest priority, even as we work through our differences (and let’s not pretend that that is always easy!)
In it all, we must avoid hurting 'one for whom Christ died'. Love will 'pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding'. Or as he put it in another letter: ‘Love does not insist on its own way’.
Love actively seeks to encourage, to join people in brotherhood, and to build a church of compassion and generosity.
There are several issues I can think of straight away that my friends and brethren and I need to find a way ‘disagree well’ on. Give me five minutes and I’ll think of several more.
Oh God: help us slay our sacred cows. Help us get off our high horses. Help us unget our got goats.
Help us make love our highest aim.