Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where did all the kindness go?

Friends, This is the first of what will be weekly posts to give the "back story" to some of my thinking as expressed in my sermons. It's just a way to give you a little extra insight into my own story, but also hopefully will provide some personal context for the sermon.

So, I grew up in the sixties and seventies, but I'm old enough to remember small-town life in the sixties. I was too young to be aware of much of what was going on in the culture at large during that time. Life in our small town of Ingleside, TX seemed fairly quiet and safe. Of course there were personal conflicts between certain families and they affected the church, but again, I was blissfully ignorant as a young child.

I was old enough to vote in my first Presidential Election in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected. Like a great majority of people, I saw Mr. Reagan as a strong leader who could help us out of the malaise of the seventies. I'm not at all saying that was the truth, but that was the perception. While the campaign was hard-fought, there was still a measure of respect and decency involved. So much so that one of Mr. Reagan's strongest opponents, George H. W. Bush, became his running mate! I doubt we would see that today!

Somewhere along the way, I would say in the mid-nineties, political rhetoric got turned up in its intensity. Then we had "talking heads" from both sides of the aisle hurling insults at each other as if that were expected. Along the way, words like "racist" and "sexist" have morphed into "Nazi" and and "Fascist" and other offensive insults. And, sad to say, it seems to me that we've only gotten worse over the years. 

Unfortunately, the same kind of mean-spirited attack has also affected the church. Of course, the church has had its internal battles for centuries. And there were times when you could lose your life if you wound up on the wrong side of the lines. But it seems that as we in the present-day church debate our differences, we have adopted something of a similar approach as the politicians. That troubles me deeply. If there's any place where we ought to be able to discuss our differences in a spirit of respect and tolerance, it's the church. 

So I'll be looking at what St. Paul has to say about this in 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, and the background for that is my concern over the way we treat each other--in the church as as a society.

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