“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?