Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CoExisT




a.k.a. Just Shut Up!

At least, this is what I consider the genuine message to be in this popular bumper sticker. You believe what you want to believe and I’ll believe what I want to believe and everybody’s Truth is subjective. Right? Just leave me alone. Live and Let Live. I won’t tell you to stop working magic and you won’t tell me to stop burning incense before my icons. And in this way, all shall be well.

Only it isn’t.

In this shallow manufactured Utopia, there is an inherent intellectual laziness; one sees borders on the surface, but the labyrinth of decrepit structures supporting this philosophy frequently washes away with the tides -- for if honesty prevails, one must acknowledge the collision between their Truth and their neighbor’s Truth. ie, I don’t mind that my neighbors are cannibals, after all, they live at the other end of the village.

With this article half-written in mind, how timely, I thought, as I stood in worship on Sunday. Bishop THOMAS was with us this day and I am thankful for it. He has a manner of speaking that really drives a point home; no fluff, no pretensions, just Truth -- succinctly. This past Sunday we remembered John the Baptist and the words of our Lord regarding this holy man: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist...” (St. Matthew 11:11) John was afraid of none, save God.

As Bishop THOMAS spoke, John the Baptist’s life came clearly to mind. I could envision what this rugged man might have looked like, living as an ascetic in the wilds of the Judean forest, wearing camel’s hair garments and eating locusts and wild honey. (St. Matthew 3) John was the greatest prophet and fearless in proclaiming Truth, as evidenced by his bold language, calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers” and pressing them toward repentance for their sins.


Icon of John the Baptist

What a stark contrast John the Baptist presents to the notion of “coexist”, as our culture defines it. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, John was also known as the “forerunner” as he was born to pave the way for Christ, declaring Him worthy of our worship and identifying Christ as the true Lamb of God. I admire John’s fearlessness in the face of persecution. When he could have done the politically correct thing and stayed silent when the King entered into an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife, Herodias, John the Baptist called it WRONG. He openly criticized what the King was doing and found himself in prison because of it.

Truth abrades those who love sin and Herodias was no exception. She hated John the Baptist for speaking this Truth, hated him so much that when the opportunity arose, she arranged for his beheading, thus marking John as a martyr for his faith. He lived rather to please God than men. God bless John the Baptist.

Fast forward two-thousand years. Our culture is shouting, Coexist!, Live and Let Live! while crossing fingers behind backs that our neighbor’s Truth will not mean our death. Subjective truth collides head-on against God’s prophet, John the Baptist who said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”


Painting of John the Baptist living in the wilderness by Geertgen Tot Sint Jans (15th century)


If we care anything at all about our neighbor, we will continue to proclaim - with great love - that there is only one God and it is His Truth that defines everything. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (St. John 14:6)

--an exclusive statement made for the benefit of all.


13 comments:

exegete77 said...

So very well stated, Amy. Thank you. God's blessings as you grow in Christ.

E.B. said...

Amazing post!

margaret said...

Excellent post!

And thoroughly nauseating banner!

Anonymous said...

What a horrible, gross misinterpretation of a bumper sticker that suggests we open our hearts to UNDERSTANDING and RESPECTING each other. We must seek to accept all religious beliefs,and stop treating them as though they threaten the foundation of one's own belief system. This is COEXIST.

Kh. Nicole said...

Great post, Amy. To Anonymous, there is a difference between standing firm in truth, and treating others in an unloving manner. One can know the Truth and be unafraid to proclaim it, but still reach out to others in love.

amy said...

Ah! I struck a nerve with this one...

Thanks for all the feedback; I really appreciate hearing from each of you.

Anonymous,

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here. As I said from the beginning, this is my impression based on experience. I believe fully in respecting other persons, as everyone is created in the image of God. This is even more reason to share the Gospel of Christ, so others may know of the glory of heaven and become the creation they were meant to be.

I don’t believe the answer to peace is in accepting all religious beliefs, as you suggest ... for how can a person be faithful to multiple beliefs? Or perhaps you mean on the surface only; being faithful to one’s core belief in private? And yet, if that core belief is beautiful and True, why wouldn’t you want to share it with everyone you love?

Truth, by nature, is exclusive. One may be peaceable without being accepting of others’ beliefs.

I know where I stand; the only threat to Christianity is from those who would not uphold its foundation.

Peace to you and all who read here.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance in proclaiming that your beliefs are the only truth, and thereby justifying imposing them on others is just so sad...not surprising but sad. Every time my family and I are confronted with this Neanderthalic view in an effort to "help us know Jesus" we become more disgusted with Christianity. I'm committed to teaching my children tolerance...but this behavior sure doesn't make it easy.

amy said...

Perhaps you would prefer it if I would

...oh, I don't know...

Just Shut Up? = ' )


Peace to you and your house.

CS said...

amazing how fast irritation arises when it involves ones own beliefs, and the threat we percieve to that value.
I think that the "coexist" isn't a sign that proclaims "can't we all just get along"- although it may be marketed as such.
would I be wrong to suggest that there is one true God that exists thru all religion? Would I be wrong to suggest that the universal love that I feel inside is available to everyone of us? would I be wrong to suggest that God exists in every living thing as well as every object created?
I know there has been pain in every part of the world cuased by every organized religion that has ever held sway. It has been because of "good intentions"
There was a message given to us and spiritual degrees to live by-
I think the problem has been there have been so many interpretations of that message, that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that truely, to know God- you must feel God.
It is by feeling that unshakeable energy and faith that allows us to all live as was intended.
I have seen God in other peoples eyes that have had nothing to do with being inside a place of worship- and everything to do where God has led me.
I met a Hindu once who had a heart so full, that he shared his abundance with me and I felt truely blessed to be in his presence- Would I dare deny God worked thru this man? i think not- and his faith had less to do with his religion- and everything to do with God.
I consider myself a Christian- but was turned away from a Baptist church once - when I was to sing- because I didn't "belong" to a church at that time- I was young, and yet- instead of anger, I felt pity for them instead. I forgave as I felt drawn to do inside.
I don't think God exists in a place; but rather in our hearts- If there has been a misunderstanding of how this one little bumper sticker has been intended; let us change the meaning in ourselves to reflect the good that it could hold, a message of hope so that the bad may be washed away. Who's to say that the original intent wasn't devined as someones frustration with how things are and the divisions of everyday life- perhaps they wished to ease that feeling of disconnect by their imagery?
I would suggest ( and I'm not a "pollyanna" )that if we allow a higher power guide our reactions, that tolerence wouldn't be something we strive for; but would just be- Without the need for outward rememberences.
Some of you may even turn my words against me- and if that is your wya, I'm sorry that the core message was lost here- and for those that possibly see what I'm trying to say- these are only words- they mean nothing.
It's what you choose to do with them that counts....
Blessings on you this day.

margaret said...

It's easy, Anonymous (didn't your mom give you a name?) just tell your children that people act according to their lights and their mom goes around making snide, snarky, anonymous comments on honest, respectful blogs according to hers. Because, funnily enough, I coexist with Jews, LDS, various protestants, a Hindu, several Muslims and a self-stated green pagan witch in my day to existence and none of us have felt the need to patronise the other to our children or use eachother for kindling. There's a real world out there, you know, beyond your little bitching Christ-hating corner of it.

E.B. said...

I love the idea or theory of people of various belief systems co-existing in mutual respect and harmony. And that can happen when people can mutually agree on basic ideals of human rights and liberty. I see that happening with greater and lesser degrees of success in westernized nations where there is/was some influence of basic Judeo-Christan values.

I had even considered getting that bumper sticker at one time. However, I do not think that truth is relative, nor 'that all paths lead to truth.' I am a Christian because I am convinced of the absolute truth of Christ.

Do I respect my neighbors and friends who believe differently than I do? Absolutely, and I believe they should be free to make their own choices in matters of heart and conscience.

If CoExisT means living together in mutual respect, liberty and peace in a democratic society, then I am on board. After all, the Bible taught me, "to live peaceably with all men, as much as possible." (Rom.12:18)

However, if CoExisT means one belief system is just as true as another, and all paths lead to the truth, then no, I cannot get on board. As Christians we can not be wishy-washy in our faith and belief, but be sure of the truth and authority of God Almighty.

I believe that is at the heart of Amy's O.P. It's a call for Christians to evaluate their belief and backbone in a world of compromised Christianity, not an endorsement of closed minds and hearts toward our neighbor.

"Those Who Stand For Nothing, Fall For Anything" - Alexander Hamilton

Could it also be argued that those who stand for everything fall for anything because they assign nothing in particular great value and truth.

Anyway, just some thoughts while reading the responses here.

amy said...

Wow- I m glad to have written something that prompted such personal feedback. I enjoyed reading your insights.

Margaret, I didn't know you had a temper akin to my own ; ' )


CS wrote:

"I met a Hindu once who had a heart so full, that he shared his abundance with me and I felt truely blessed to be in his presence- Would I dare deny God worked thru this man? i think not- and his faith had less to do with his religion- and everything to do with God."

I hear you -- and I can relate to this kind of experience. I leave this to the mystery of God, as He is above all and can work in and through anyone He sees fit.

I do also believe in Jesus Christ and the Truth he left us. I think others should look strictly to Him and what He said about God rather than base their judgments of Christianity upon mere christians. We all have such failings.

E.B. said:

"If CoExisT means living together in mutual respect, liberty and peace in a democratic society, then I am on board. After all, the Bible taught me, "to live peaceably with all men, as much as possible." (Rom.12:18)

Hear! Hear! I'm on board with always treating others with respect, that wasn't my intention at all with the post. It's my impression, that is, my experience with attitudes in my neck-o-the-woods, that the message is to just shut up ~ we don't want to hear the claims of Christ.

Bro. Steve said...

The Secular Man keeps looking for a way to embrace pleasant errors without colliding with unpleasant truth, and as your mighty fine post points out, that keeps not working. Light and darkness can't coexist; neither can Christ and Belial.

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