Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Now That's a Word I Don't Like

I love St. Thomas More, and especially the movie made about him called A Man For All Seasons. One particular line that always brings a laugh is when Will Roper is called a heretic by More, he objects by saying, "Now that's a word I don't like." More responds by saying, "It's not a likeable word. It's not a likeable thing." More does not back down from insisting that Roper repent from his heresy before he can court More's daughter.

Sometimes we have to take the hard stand on things. It can make us uncomfortable and unpopular, but we know we have to be firm. Often we can find ourselves to be in the reverse of Thomas More's situation, where the Will Roper's in our lives tell us unlikeable things, and we need to still stand unmoved.

One phrase I never like to hear is, "So, you call yourself a Christian." There are several reasons why. First it is always judgmental. Whatever you have done to receive this rebuke, that action is being judged against what the speaker considers true Christian behavior. And that is the problem. Do they really know how Christians should behave in every situation?

Another problem with it is that it is intended to shame the person spoken to. Sometimes shaming someone works--more often than not, it only entrenches them more deeply in the objectionable behavior. And yet it still remains to be seen whether that behavior is truly reprehensible, or just in the eyes of the accuser.

I dislike that phrase because most of the time I have heard it applied, it has been done unfairly. The speaker was only looking at a small picture of the problem, and not considering all the repercussions of the consequences of behaving differently. The speaker is usually personally invested in something happening differently than what is unfolding, and not capable of stepping back and seeing more than what they want.

Finally, it implies that if you are a Christian, you are, if not perfect already, well on your way of doing everything graciously, wisely and prudently. In fact, most of us, when we are honest, know how fallible we are--how rash, hasty, ill-prepared, unequipped, unwise, impatient, and a dozen other things that we are, and we are Christians because of it. We need a Savior. We are Christians because we know we are flawed!

There are lots of uncomfortable situations out there brewing these days. The accusations against the faithful will begin pouring in as hot issues boil over. More than ever, we are going to need cool heads like Thomas More's when we hear words we don't like.

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