I Was Thinking…
Is it possible to live in a ‘both/and’ world? We seem to be living in days of ‘either/or’ with ‘both/and’ far out of our reach. Jesus certainly believed in an ‘either/or’ world in certain contexts. For example, he said that we cannot serve God and money. We will either hate one or love the other (Matthew 6:24). Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also (Matthew 6:21) … ‘either/or’.
But Jesus mostly believed in a ‘both/and’ world. Jesus strongly lived and taught that we could have enemies, all the while loving them (Matthew 5:44). On the day of his crucifixion, Jesus, in agony cried, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) … ‘both/and’. Jesus was the embodiment of ‘both/and’ living. It was the Gospel writer, Luke, who recorded Jesus’ saying about mercy, that if you give mercy, you will receive mercy in return running over. “Give and it shall be given back to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” (Luke 6:38) What is mercy but a ‘both/and’ concept? Mercy is giving to someone who does not deserve it.
I agonize over our world as it seems to move closer and closer to the extremism of ‘either/or’. We speak as if any person seeing a gray area of any issue to mean that person is ‘wishy/washy’ and thus weak. But I would like to suggest that the world is a safer, happier and a more God-like world when we live amid ‘both/and’.
We can align with the Republican or Democrat political philosophies and still both be Americans. We can be anti-racist and still respect those police officers who sincerely desire to protect and serve every person…red, yellow, black, and white. We can be Christian and still love our Muslim sisters and brothers. We can be young or old and still wear a mask because we care for the other person (who knows we might just be COVID asymptomatic). We can see social issues through different lenses and still appreciate each other’s perspective. We can live in peace on earth, good will to all humankind. We can live in a ‘both/and’ world. I know this is God’s will for us.
We can join our hearts and voices against ‘either/or’ evil. We can fight a common war on evil that seems to be winning these days with the nuclear weapon of divisiveness. It seems many persons are not happy as human beings unless they can align themselves against some other group…is this the heart of God?
I challenge us to think carefully and deeply about our tone of living. Think carefully and deeply about our words and our thoughts. Are they ‘both/and’ or are they ‘either/or’?
Yes, Jesus had some ‘either/or’ statements but mostly those were statements that had to do with evil that was soul destructive. His ‘both/and’ living was for strengthening and winning a world to the heart of God’s love. Let’s do this, friend…change the room you’re in… tend your acre of the world by being a ‘both/and’ person.