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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: 1 Corinthians 9

When I was at the height of my political advocacy 15 years ago, I remember having a somewhat jaded view of clergypersons. I used to get frustrated that so few of them would step out on a limb and take more radical positions. I was convinced I knew why they were hesitant to do so. I figured it was because they were simply afraid of losing their jobs – that’s why they kept their mouths shut when I thought they should be speaking.

Fast forward fifteen years. Now I’m one of those clergypersons about whom I had railed. I sometimes find myself in situations where I sense some would like me to take more public positions, and yet I hold back. Why? Is it because now I’m the one afraid of losing his position? Is it because my core values and commitments have changed?

No. There is another reason why. Let’s see if I can explain that reason for you.

You see fifteen years ago, I had the luxury of moving through life and seeing the world through one lens: my own. It was so easy to take positions when mine was the only perspective I had to consider. As I grew in my ministry, however, I began to be drawn deeply into the lives of others. People that had previously been little more than caricatures suddenly became human beings. And while I certainly didn’t always share their opinions and/or values, I was begiining to see that these other folks were deeply principled people who were living their lives as best they knew. This changed my way of being in the world. I became much less antagonistic toward those who were different from myself and much more able to acknowledge their humanity.

In many ways, I grew into the words Paul lifted up in today’s passage from 1 Corinthians 9 – where he said: “I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ – but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.”

Maybe there are those in your life at whom you are tempted to lash out. If so, I would invite you to consider Paul’s advice and enter their world and try to experience things from their point of view. While such an effort probably won’t change your thoughts or positions, it might help you let go of the anger and animosity you’ve been carrying toward others and replace those feelings with other things like love and grace.

Til next time…

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