You Can’t Shout at Your Neighbor and Still See the Imago in Them

Jason Micheli —  February 8, 2017 — 5 Comments

Well, I tried posting reflections on Trump’s Executive Order from differing viewpoints. My aim was to offer hospitality for the ‘other’ perspective so the the Church might better be the better place God has made in the world where there is neither Democrat nor Republican.

Instead the red and blue hued views just prompted an amen chorus on either side of the field, each cheering the comments that championed their tribe. And don’t get me started on the dreadful links to absurd “news” sites some of you sent me purporting to reveal the “truth” about all Muslims every where.

Here’s an actual newsflash:

People who are shouting at each other are constitutionally incapable of seeing the image of God in someone else.

And there’s so much shouting in our culture these days. Assuming the maxim above, such shouting is a willful closing of our eyes and heart to God. How we debate, as Christians, in other words, is as important as the conclusions that we draw.

Rather than strap on my collar, hit you over the head with Matthew 18, and call you out on your sin of idolatry for putting love of party over love of the Christ-bearing neighbor, I thought instead I would offer these tips by way of the philosopher John Stuart Mill. If Christians would heed these then perhaps they could stomach social media without needing to resort to the sentimentality of puppy pics.

  1. Mill reminds us because we are fallible, if we ignore an opposing opinion we may in fact be ignoring the truth.
  2. Mill points out that even if another’s opinion is in error, it may still contain a portion of the truth.
  3. Mill reminds us even if we are entirely correct in our position that position risks becoming simple prejudice if we cease to be in conversation with those who would disagree with us.

So, before you post that self-righteous comment which only reaffirms your existing worldview remember that you are fallible, which is to say sinful. And before you dismiss your neighbor as ‘hysterical’ remember that to ignore one of your peers may be ignoring truth that the Spirit is trying to speak to you. Remember that even if you think one of your peers is wrong, it’s not likely they’re absolutely wrong. Listen for what you think is true about their perspective.

And do not forget that even if you have no intention of ever changing your mind on these issues, you owe your peers your conversation more so than you owe your party your loyalty.

Jason Micheli

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5 responses to You Can’t Shout at Your Neighbor and Still See the Imago in Them

  1. I hope you are not directing this at everyone. I can assure you that I HAVE listened and read and sincerely tried to understand the “other” perspective. You assume a lot to place those who disagree with you in only one category and then accuse them of choosing political party over God.

    • Based on the tone of your comment, I can’t help but assume this article is absolutely for you. I read and re-read this post, and I couldn’t find a single thing that a reasonable person would deem inappropriate. This was simply excellent, across-the-board advice.

    • Thank you, Val. I am so sorry this is happening.

  2. I had to read this twice to make sure that I did not misunderstand what you are saying. I absolutely am capable of seeing Christ in others, and do. In a perfect world we would not even have to have this conversation.

    I just wrote an essay and deleted it! I think I will just add an AMEN to Val and to Ann.

  3. So, what Mary, Ann, and Val are saying is that they ARE shouting at others while still seeing the image and likeness of God in them?

    So, you’re shouting at the image and likeness of God?

    Because folks, I think that’s what Jason is cautioning us about, not over party loyalty.

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