When I was a student pastor, I asked members of the congregation I was serving who they were. I heard many statements that included “we are not ____” and “we do not do ___”. When I clarified that I wanted to know who they were, not who they were not, the silence was profound.

Do we need enemies to define us? Dysfunctional families, gangs and autocrats need enemies or scapegoats. It keeps the criticism focused outside the group.

We don’t become better by vanquishing external enemies. If all external enemies were to disappear we would still have to deal with our own faults. Then we would be our own worst enemy.

So we learn to love ourselves as we love others -unconditionally- with eyes wide open -warts and all. Then we can work on defining who we are individually and collectively. We can be people who have dignity and hope. We can create a society where each person has opportunities for growth and the sense of being appreciated.

We can be better versions of who we are presently.

One Response

  1. Yes! The “we are not…” statements remind me of conversations I’ve had among other ‘liberal’ Christians where we fall into bashing right-wing Christianity rather than talking about what IS important to us. While I think negative experiences and points of disagreement need to be addressed, it also seems to be an easy habit to get into, particularly when you’re pretty sure the people you’re talking with will agree with you. Defining what you really stand for is harder! It kind of reminds me of what you were saying in Bible study the other week- that in getting rid of your sinful habits, you need to fill the space with something else.

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