(I’ve found myself using song lyrics or titles for blog posts lately…this is from one of my favourite 8-tracks in the ’80s)
Answer a few questions for me:
- If it isn’t hot, it is: _____
- If it isn’t black, it is: _____
- If it isn’t north is must be: _____
- If it isn’t expensive it must be: _____
Now, I’m guessing some of you answered these questions,
But can we agree that the following would also be accurate?
Binary thinking is the idea that something is either one thing or another. In computerese, something is either a 1 or a 0. It is binary. Most of life isn’t binary, however.
If you are not alive, you are…dead? Comatose? In a vegetative state? I don’t think it is a stretch to say that part of the anger and division in the States is due to binary thinking. While Jesus said:
for whoever is not against us is for us. -Mark 9:40
You generally see people flip this around. If you are not on our team, then you are the other…you are the enemy.
Earlier this summer I shared a link to a really good podcast. One of the most interesting parts for me was when the speaker (Brian Ross) said the following:
If you are conservative and start spending time with Jesus, your political views will begin to change.
If you are progressive and start spending time with Jesus, your political views will begin to change.
There is a basic understanding there which all followers of Jesus can agree on. None of us knows everything. And none is right about everything we believe. However, as we come to know Jesus, the Holy Spirit will reveal truth to us. There will be changes in how we relate to people, behave, and think about things. We should, over time, become more like Jesus. Nothing too radical there.
However, in the Q and A section of the podcast, a common line of questioning was, “are you saying we need to become moderates?”
And that is how we are trained to see politics. There are two points…Conservative/Liberal, Republican/Democrat. And either you are one of them, or you are somewhere in the mushy middle.
When we think like that, we either have to make Jesus a moderate…or claim him for our team. But Jesus was a radical, not a moderate (radicals get killed by those in power, not moderates). And the only way we can argue that he is on our team is to highlight a few comments here and there and ignore the majority of his teaching.
Remember that passage in Joshua? Joshua sees the Angel of the Lord and asks the binary question. “Are you for us or our enemy?” God, of course, makes it clear that he does not fit neatly onto Joshua’s map.
I’m actually not writing this to make a political point. As I’ve been working through some recent blog posts, I imagine some of the responses. “If you not for this, then are you for that?” “If you don’t believe this, then you must believe that.”
The issue of deconstruction in the church has been a big one as of late. And so many are there because someone told them to believe the party line or leave. We must create safe spaces for people to ask questions…to think about things in new ways.
If you’re not so sure about that, here is a follow-up assignment to the earlier quiz. Go back this week and read some of the conversations Jesus had with regular people in the gospels.
Let’s see if he blows up some of our binary thinking…again.
Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash