Today’s question comes from Sharon. She wrote: “Seems like people always have to have a campaign. At one time it was divorce, then speaking in tongues, music, etc. now, it is homosexuality. Getting divorced, speaking in tongues, not speaking in tongues, singing old hymns, singing contemporary songs, same sex relationships, opposite sex relationships etc., the Lord makes no waves about. But we do. Why do you think that is?”
What a great question. I have wondered about that myself many times. I will put out a couple of thoughts, and then invite you to jump in as well.
I think there are a couple reasons why folks tend to invest in such campaigns. Many folks are raised in religious traditions that emphasized that there was a right way to live one’s life and a wrong way. If you chose the right way to live, then you would be rewarded. If you chose the wrong way, you would be punished.
As a result, some folks became incredibly focused on their understand of what living “the right way” entailed. For some in the holiness churches, for instance, “the right way” meant absolutely no gambling, no drinking, no wearing make up, no going to movies, no divorces, no … you fill in the blank. Anyone, who did those things was clearly headed down the wrong path, and bound for punishment by God. Usually eternal punishment in their eyes!
While I believe many of these folks had good intentions at the start, over time they became more focused on what they defined as “right behavior” and less focused on “right relationship with God”. Their expressions of faith became rigid and legalistic. They often found themselves doing “the right thing” – but in the wrong ways and sometimes even for the wrong reasons.
I’ve encountered others who take on campaigns for a different reason. They like the power and control that such campaigns allow them to hold over others. These folks make me the saddest because of the way they distort what I have experienced to be the loving and grace-filled nature of God and reek havoc on the lives of others – all because of their selfish desire for power and control.
When I was younger, I would often allow my buttons to be pushed when I ran into folks on campaigns. I would meet their rigidity and judgment with my own forms of rigidity and judgment. Sadly, my campaign became to stamp out other campaigns. I was miserable!
As I have gotten older, I’ve tried to take a different approach. I tell myself that my campaign is to share God’s all inclusive love and grace with absolutely everyone I meet. When I encounter folks whose campaigns seem particularly divisive and hurtful, I tell myself that my interaction with these folks gives me a GREAT opportunity to practice my campaign in deeper ways. Sometimes I am more successful living into my campaign than others.
So how about you? Why do you think some people are so committed to their own campaigns?
I look forward to hearing your next question. You all have sparked such wonderful conversations!