a light so lovely

We do not convince others by telling them loudly how wrong they are and how right we are.  We convince them by showing them a light so lovely they will want with all their hearts to know the source of it.–Madeleine L’Engle

Right on sister.  Aren’t we all sick of all the shouting at each other?  Well, maybe not the people who like to shout.  Count me out.

On July 14th Ross Douthat wrote an op-ed for the New York Times entitled Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?  A day later Diana Butler Bass posted a thoughtful response, pushing the question a bit further: can Christianity be saved?  Right on sister.  Right wing Christians loudly judge the left as unfaithful and unchristian, citing membership decline as proof.  The left condemn those on the right (also losing members) as mainly interested in getting into heaven, ignoring the plight of the poor and the oppressed, and in some instances becoming the oppressors themselves.

What a sad place we have come to.  Red states versus blue states.  Red answers versus blue answers.  In both cases there is some wisdom and some truth; neither has a handle on the whole truth.  Isn’t the truth more purple?  Won’t the best, most helpful answers be purple answers?

I love this quote from Madeleine L’Engle.  In my experience in the church it is that “light so lovely” that people are drawn to.  I like to think of people as spiritual beings trying to live a human life.  That light so lovely is home light, the light of Christ, love’s pure light.  All this fractious fighting between reds and blues is a distortion and a distraction, garish light that blinds us.  If that’s how Christians are going to behave then I have to conclude, no, Christianity cannot be saved.  Count me out, too.

But for now, I will keep the faith and lift up what the gospel writer said about Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  –John 1.4-5; 9-11 (NIV)

May the light from God enlighten you and bless your life,

david gilliam, pastor, faith united methodist church, austin.  for more about faith church, click here.