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Posts Tagged ‘classify’

Friends are great.  I love it when I look across the room, make eye contact, and we each know what the other is thinking.  It’s great to be known so well that a friend can finish my sentences.  When my emotions are in turmoil and I can’t figure out who I am, my friends know who I am deep down, and can remind me.  People can be hard to understand.  Figuring them out, getting on solid ground from which to communicate, can be a challenge, one I usually look forward to.  I don’t want a friend who is just like me.  What redundancy to duplicate my thoughts into another person’s brain, to hear them repeated back to me!  There is only one whose thoughts I would think after Him.  Others, though I may agree with them, though I want to find commonality and fellowship in the truth, bless me by being different.  They challenge me with being unlike me.

I do rejoice in agreement.  It can be lonely to feel that I am the only person who lives a certain way or who believes something, the only fan of my favorite movie.  I need someone to share these things with.  There is peace and comfort in knowing that I am understood.  Agreement affirms me.

On the other hand, disagreement is one of my favorite things.  My brain is stimulated by a good conflict.  I understand the world better through discussing it with someone who holds an opposing view.  And there is so much clarity in being able to identify the root point or points of disagreement.  Definition comes partly through describing what something is not.

Both agreement and disagreement can be taken to extremes.  I know, because I do.  Sometimes I love to argue so much that I will almost pick a fight.  For the sake of having something to say, I’ll focus on where I differ with the others in the conversation.  I draw a line and take sides.  No matter how much common ground we share, I will persist in skirting any similarities so that I can exaggerate the conflict to make a point (or to find a point).

When I do understand and do agree, I tend to go overboard.  Speaking a thought that I know will get an “amen” in the minds of my friends is my way of letting them know that, at least on that point, we are the same.  I have paid enough attention to what they believe, and have continued the thought in my own mind, reaching the heights of conclusions from the same foundation.  But I get afraid to speak a completely independent thought, lest I find disagreement where I was reveling in union.

There is safety in saying a simple, “We are the same,” or, “We are different.”  But friendship is not about same or different.  People are complex.  I agree with my friends to a point, and then our ideas part ways.  Even when we do agree, sometimes our personalities express our views so they sound different.  And union is not erased because sometimes we disagree.  Perfect accord should only be found around complete understanding of truth.  Being human, that isn’t really possible.  But it is our goal.

It is possible that by speaking, that I and my friends could be growing nearer the truth.  Even if, on previous days, a friend had held a different view, my boldness to declare a position in opposition (or in ignorance) of their belief may influence them to change.  Or when I venture to say something with which my friends may or may not concur, I might be exposing an area in which I needed correction.

I should not be so timid nor so arrogant as to assume that I am merely classifying my acquaintances and myself.  One reason is that a person defies labels.  He is not defined by his creeds, however essential they are to forming his character, perspective, and choices.  Certainly, I should be concerned that I find friends with honorable character, godly perspective, and good choices.  The reason for this is that they will be affecting my character, along with my creeds.  And, in turn, I will be influencing theirs.

I am tempted, when I find my friends holding ideas that I believe are false, to sigh and put them in a cabinet where I keep all my acquaintance who believe such.  They are no longer friends, then, in positions of respect and trust.  And I suppose I am fearing that my friends will put me in such a cabinet, for their part.  But not only do people defy labels; they also change their minds.

Is this not what it means, to love instead of to judge?  To judge a person is to see them as a firm set of beliefs.  Are their convictions true or false, good or evil?  If too much falsity and too much wickedness, depart from me; I know what you are!  But this is not love.  Love sees people as relational.  Growing.  Alive.  Changing.  Men and women communicate with each other.  They learn.  What is the point of judging someone for an opinion they may not hold tomorrow?

Certainly, discern their character.  Apply wisdom to whether they would most benefit from a word of correction or an acquaintance for encouragement.  It is sometimes better to listen than to speak that word of agreement or of controversy.  Where do they need to grow?  How are they influencing me?

Jesus and Paul, in the New Testament, and Solomon in the Old, give guidelines for extreme cases.  Those persisting, without regret, in sin should be confronted, even disciplined, for their own good and for my good, too.  We should not walk in the ways with scoffers.

But to travel with companions is good, for if one falls, the others are not to run away, but to help him up again!  James addresses this, as well, in the very end of his book, when he encourages his audience to convert the sinner who errs from the truth.  In fact, throughout the book of James he advises sincere love and peace, rather than judgment (for it is laws we are judging, not people).  Do not show favoritism, but rather value everyone’s role in community.

So whether I speak or am silent, I do not want it to be because I am afraid of being classified and shelved.  Nor do I want it to be because I need more information to appropriately label others.  My friendship needs to be centered on my friends and I becoming more like Christ, conformed to the truth.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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