Friday, 20 April 2012

Being Bigger than Bigotry

As children, my siblings and I were taught that no one’s life exists outside of God’s love and grace.  Similarly, we were taught that even if a person went to a different church, or held beliefs different to our own, we should recognize that God’s grace is big enough to accommodate human difference.  The underlying principle is that Life belongs to God and not to us.  We occupy this world for a brief spell, and in that brief spell, we are permitted to touch this world by the manner we choose to live this gifted life.

With the advent of the Civil Rights Movement in the Untied States in the late 1960s, there have been times when I thought we, modern people that we are, had outgrown discrimination and bigotry.  I am bigger than that after all! Aren’t I?

I was caught off guard recently however.  In my business, being a minister and all, I encounter lots of atheists and agnostics and followers of other philosophies and beliefs.  Well, it has happened from time to time that a person of another following will make a derogatory comment about a God-centred life.  If God does not exist to them, how ridiculous must it seem to them, that whole populations base their lives around the idea that Life belongs to God.

The fact remains, that such derogatory comments aimed at theists are an expression of bigotry, but it does it stop there.  If I, a theist, turn my ire back on those who have spoken such offensive words, and unleash my own venomous words of anger against them in the name of my beliefs, haven’t I too slipped?  When I free myself to speak sarcastically or hatefully about the lives of those with whom I disagree, am I not fuelling the fires of bigotry?

If I am going to out-grow bigotry, then I am going to chose to be a person who gives Life back to God for God’s glory.  This will invite me to look for God’s hand beyond my own life experiences, and to refrain from reducing the Life that belongs to God to a collection of personal opportunities where I may use my words to shame, manipulate and coerce others into adopting my superior way of thinking.  I will not agree with all the people I encounter regarding the source and end of Life, but I will honour God when I take a stand to be bigger than bigotry.

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