I used to be a conversation-ender.
Growing up in the South, I was immersed in a conservative environment, both religiously and politically. I grew up Presbyterian, in a long bloodline of Presbyterians past, which is a denomination that puts great emphasis on knowledge and scripture. I grew up with sword drills, and I was a quicker draw than most. I knew all the Bible stories and could answer all the Sunday school questions.
I wouldn’t trade that upbringing. I have deep respect for my Presbyterian roots. They are strong and deep. I still maintain most of my early Presbyterian theology and appreciate my early exposure to a love of the word of God.
What I would trade, however, is how I used that word of God. I was quick to draw my sword and fight, and I fought to draw blood. I fought to win.
The appeal of a black-and-white theology is that there is a straight answer for everything. There are neat categories. There is order, and we Presbys love us some order. There is comfort in knowing what is right and what is wrong, who is in and who is out, where the line in the sand is and which side we’re on.
The problem with black-and-white theology is that it is fear-based. Fear of complication, wrong answers, messy categories, disorder. Fear of not knowing, not being sure, or maybe just not being right. Fear of being disagreed with. Fear that there could be more than one valid answer. Fear of losing that comfort and security.
The good and bad of boundaries
Having clear boundaries makes us feel safe. That’s a natural human trait. We’re designed to want and need boundaries. Boundaries are good and necessary.
But whose boundaries?
If boundaries are good and necessary, then the more boundaries we have, the better off we will be, right? We will be safer and more comfortable. We will be more sure. More right. So we create more and more boundaries for ourselves, encroaching on the space within. Little by little, we sacrifice our safe space until we find ourselves…in prison!
Enter Jesus. Enter truth. Enter freedom. Enter fullness of life. Enter fulfillment of the law. Enter space.
The best boundaries we can live by are God’s boundaries, not ours. But how do we know what God’s boundaries are? Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s in and who’s out, who’s free and who’s in prison, whose space is God’s space?
Better to be safe than sorry, right?
Better slap down those who threaten the safety of our comfortable boundaries, right?
Better end the conversation now than risk stepping out into all that space, right?
To be continued in tomorrow’s post…