exclusion and embrace


thanks to perry polnaszek i am presently reading miroslav volf’s “exclusion and embrace.” in the book volf basically works through the question of how we can follow JESUS’s command to love our enemies. really how do you love someone who might have done amazing evil to and against you? to use the old CHRISTian cliché, how do we love the sinner and hate the sin? it has been very challenging for me in several areas.

loving the sinner while hating the sin involve me “embracing” that person. that “embrace” makes it difficult to “exclude” the person while still not approving of the sin. for example, i love my kids and there is nothing they could do that would change that fact.  there are, however, actions they could do that i would find HIGHLY disagreeable. since i love them i wouldn’t view them by their sin. instead i view them as people who i love who have done something terrible. on the other hand, that “embrace” hasn’t happened with people i don’t know and so it is more difficult not merely view them from the view of “exclusion.” there are actions that are so evil that we morally must respond to with “exclusion” but  that doesn’t mean we ignore the “embrace” of the individual who committed them.

i’ll share a none sin relate example. it is political season and so in our social media world this means i daily run into a large number of people expressing their political beliefs and some whose main goal seems to be just belittling other people’s political beliefs. there are people i love who disagree with me but i would never ignore them because i know them as loved ones rather than just people i disagree with politically. on the ohter hand, two nights ago i mistakenly got into a political debate with an anonymous person on twitter (it’s a long story that i won’t get into). the conversation was very frustrating because the guy was combative. i didn’t even really mean to get into a conversation with him. i responded to a former youth’s tweet and this guy jumped in and started criticizing me and tapestry even though he doesn’t know ether of us. he would say something and i would try to respond.  i quickly reached a point where i was starting to really not like someone that i didn’t even know. that is when i thought of “exclusion and embrace” and i decided i should get to know him. i figured finding out his name would be a good start. it didn’t work out so well because he wasn’t interested in anything more than telling me how wrong i was. at that point the conversation ended because i realized i couldn’t debate a person whose name i didn’t even know. nothing good would come of the twitter conversation until we both new a little about each other.

still it was a good lesson for me.

in the midst of disagreement or worse i am going to try to respond to people with “embrace” even if i am rightly reacting to their actions or beliefs with “exclusion.”

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