People like safety. They like the comfortableness of it, the self-validating nature of it, the superiority of it in a world that is anything but safe. However, in most cases the illusion of safety is more highly prized than the reality of it. We surround ourselves with other likeminded individuals who hold similar mores, political ideologies, theologies, and worldviews, giving ourselves the impression of ‘safety’ through mutual validation.
However, like with most idols, this kind of ‘safety’ dehumanizes people. The opposing party, group, movement, culture, race, or denomination, becomes condensed into, and defined by, a stereotype. Keeping those we disagree with at arms length is ‘safe’, it is ‘comfortable’, and it permits the continuing illusion of doctrinal and cultural superiority. This ‘safety’ also destroys meaningful dialogue because a genuine challenge to an established stance is seen as combative and a personal attack. When we identify ourselves with a specific group -and by identify I do NOT mean casually associate -any attack made on that group becomes a personal attack. Whether it be liberal vs conservative, Protestant vs Roman Catholic, pro-abortion vs pro-life: the list could go on and on -when you say I am ‘X’, any attack on ‘X’ becomes an attack on you. This is especially true in Christian circles which often demonize each other, as well as take worldly definitions with which to define themselves (conservative, liberal, etc…). We forget that when Joshua asked the angel of the Lord, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”, the angel did not respond to the question, but simply stated, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come”(Josh. 5:13-14). God was not bound by the human definitions that Joshua used (Israel vs. Canaanite), but rather is only defined by himself -God is on his own side. Similarly with Jesus, the ultimate divider in his ministry was not between Jew or Gentile, clean or unclean, but between those who believed and those who did not. Christ alone is the ultimate one by whom we as Christians should identify, and any earthly categorization should be secondary to this -a very distant second. Jesus went to those whom the Jews despised and hated, explicitly because he was doing the will of his Father and that mattered more than any cultural, political, or misguided religious categorizations of his day.
Christ went to the outcast, the disenfranchised, and the poor of his time, bearing the good news of himself. He gave no heed to whether they were like him, or whether it was culturally acceptable, but only looked to his Father’s mission. We are called to be like Him first and foremost. We are not first Americans, or conservatives, or Reformed, or pro-life, or black/white/Hispanic/Asian, legal/illegal, rich/poor/middle-class, but rather Christians. Putting aside these human classifications does not mean we turn a blind eye to evil (Jesus certainly didn’t), but it does mean we are free in Christ to genuinely engage with all men, women, and children everywhere: in safety and without fear.