I’m torn between two types of people I want to be: one who shows grace to those with differing opinions, and one who is firm in both conviction and setting healthy emotional boundaries.
How can one be both in this era?
Yet Another Identity Crisis
For me, this is another Jewish-versus-Christian issue, where both sides of me fight for dominance. My Jewish self is feisty, justice-focused, and often brash in the way she speaks her mind (Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just that sort of Jew).
By contrast, my Christian self is more quiet, delicate. Wants to make waves without attracting too much attention. Emphasizes unity over choosing sides.
There’s no reason why both can’t overlap. In fact, they very often do. For me, the conflict is which one I choose to feed more.
Two Types of Offensiveness
Part of the problem is that neither identity is safe from causing offense. Even the grace-filled person offends people. Some might say she’s so consumed with bringing people together that she ends up “enabling the oppressor” in their ignorance or prejudice. She’s so focused on keeping the conversation going that she hesitates to call out sins like racism or idolatry.
The person who stands firm in her convictions and boundaries is problematic in a more obvious way. She’s linked with protests that escalate into violence. She’s called divisive, accused of being intolerant of those who don’t think like her. While her commitment to her values is admirable, her passion tends to make people uncomfortable (even those who share her views).
Even Jesus Was Both
Making matters more complicated is that Jesus himself played both roles. He was a unifier and a divider; he brought opposing factions of society together and also forced them to choose sides when circumstances called for it. He told people they were forgiven, and he flipped tables over in anger. Different contexts revealed both sides. Somehow, he carried both in harmony.
The Bible is still relevant to our modern lives. Unfortunately, it has little to say about handling the divisiveness that comes from two political binaries. That’s a modern wisdom issue, and it’s an ongoing struggle to hear the Holy Spirit in all the noise.
There is a time for unifying, and a time for dividing. Except no one can agree which is which.