“Hopefully you all coexist,” he said. It was the first time I’d heard that word spoken out loud and used in the same context I had, up until that moment, only read on the bumper of a Prius. I was surprised at the hollowness I felt when I heard it.  Is that the best I can expect? Coexisting? The grocery clerk was speaking in response to our brief check-out chatter about office parties and the odd bedfellows they create. My office is, in fact, the human equivalent of that well-intentioned yet inexplicably annoying bumper sticker, and I guess, coexisting, is what we do. We share the same space, breathe the same air, treat each other with respect, inquire about one another’s health and family, cooperate with one another to accomplish our daily tasks, and generally play nice. Coexisting is vanilla.  It’s lukewarm. I’d prefer to co-thrive.

In the name of civility we have all been castrated, and disallowed to give voice to our respective beliefs   so that we may simply occupy the same space, breathe the same air, merely subsist until we die.

 I am a Christian, my faith offers hope to the hurting, healing for the broken, forgiveness, wholeness, satisfaction, and contentment. My faith offers the opportunity to know God personally! I’ve been told you may view it as an insult if I dare tell you about it. But it destroys me to see you hurting, or hear of your disappointments and know that an encounter with the living God would rock your world if you’d let it, and nothing would ever be the same, and you would be brand new. Yet somehow, letting you in on the secret would offend you.

It seems, at times, the only voices being heard belong to those who shriek loudly and tell our Christian story badly. They have ruined it for the rest of us who have an absolutely beautiful story to tell. It is they who have reduced us to coexisting when we could be co-thriving.

If you have had the misfortune to brush up against a judgmental, pious, narrow-minded, shallow, legalistic individual claiming to live under the banner of Christ, you have not truly met one of his followers, but someone who is using the name of Jesus Christ in vain. A friend of mine addressed this more eloquently than I in his brief, yet poignant piece Giving Jesus a Bad Name (take a quick moment to pop on over and give it a read – I think you will appreciate his point).  It is those shrill individuals who have forced our society to settle for coexistence.

If you are among those who see Christianity as an oppressive belief, then you must be on the outside looking in, you must have never experienced the beauty of Christ. If you haven’t experienced that beauty, you sound a little foolish to those of us who have when you label our faith as violent, racist, bigoted, intolerant, and irrelevant. Probably just the way we sound to you. So remember that the next time you start touting all the reasons Christians are the problem. If you haven’t truly experienced our namesake, you are speaking about what you don’t really know.

I have read all kinds of articles about why we can’t really ever coexist, each with their own agenda, each representing the point of view of one of the symbols on the sticker, none of them spoken through the filter of sincere love for one another. I think the idea of coexistence is well intentioned, but I can’t help the heaviness in my heart when I think that this is our best option. I certainly don’t advocate bloodshed in the name of various deities. I don’t want oppression to continue under the guise of religion, but the indifference of coexistence brings its own kind of death.

Perhaps as long as we dwell in these shadowlands, coexisting is the best solution we can come up with. It is a stark reminder to me at each red-light when I am told to coexist, that I am living in a world that is just a shadow of the beauty for which our human souls were originally intended. We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?

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11 thoughts on “Coexist. Is this the best we can do?

  1. This is just too good! I am keeping it in my wordpress folder to use as a link in a future post unless you object! You have said in great wording what I have wanted to say. How I pray others would see this truth.

  2. Very well written and deep thoughts. One way to look at coexisting…compromise? Last I read, we were to rule and reign with Christ. I believe we owe everyone an encounter with the real Christ, with the brilliant Holy Spirit who is supposed to live inside us as believers. If we are ambassadors for Christ, then we should be advancing His kingdom through…the fruit of the Spirit. How do we grow in kindness? in an unkind situation towards us. My experience is people are looking for the real Christ and when they meet Him…through us, there is their encounter.
    These scriptures should rock us all!
    Rom 12:20-21 & 1 Pet 2:12 p.s. funny…most of the fruit of the Holy Spirit only grows in bad soil, sela.

    1. Dan, thank you for this wonderful comment. I do think people are indeed looking for the real Christ, and it is my sincere and earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit is pouring from my life in such a way as to accurately reflect the beauty of our magnificent Savior, jar of clay that I am.

      Great scriptures you referenced:

      Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 12:20-21

      Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 1 Peter 2:12

      PS. Comment anytime Dan. Your words have enhanced the value of my ponderings exponentially!

  3. Hey my friend….very good article again. You are right that when we try to water things down to a level that everyone can accept we give up our voices….and it is true that as we all try to speak with integrity and passion about our beliefs it is going to offend.

    Our God claims to be The Truth. That is exclusive, and there is no way around that…however, it is balanced by compassion and love.

    There are those in my life who do not believe as I do, and I’ve had some heated dialogs with some of them, but then we had to come to a point where we acknowledged that we simply disagree. We don’t hate each other. We would each like to see the other believe as we do, but we’ve found a way to have given our best comments and then respected each other.

    The ability to do that is hard to have in groups…we egg each on in our groups and it makes it difficult to accept that we can disagree and still respect each other.

    As Christians, ultimately we have to leave it in God’s care. We have to find the way to be true to our beliefs and speak with a boldness that is tempered by compassion….and then accept that God is ultimately in control….hard to do sometimes in our dialogs.

    Again…thanks for the thoughts and getting us thinking….

    1. Thank you Sarah. You are right – it is a balance. It is a difficult thing to have Truth, yet need to show compassion and love. I must always leave this tension I feel in the hands of God, just as you said, as I know many with opposing views and I love them just the same.

  4. This sticker was left on the wall in my classroom by the previous teacher, and I’ve kept it. I have also experienced most of the thoughts you described. But at the end of the day, I thought if it (the sticker) prompted one student to ask about Jesus, it was okay. It also means there’s a cross in my classroom. And yes, at least one student has asked.

    Thanks for sharing friend.

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