|Cuz it's black and white|
My friends, in the past year I have learned an important lesson. Life is not sharp, crisp black and white (or red for that matter). It's actually pretty fuzzy gray.
Now, before you shut your brain off completely and write me off as a humanistic heretic, hear me out.
Yes, there are black and white issues in life. Sin is sin and truth is truth. There ARE absolutes. But what about things that aren't morally right or wrong. What about politics? What about history? What about issues?
Now, I know the Bible is our guidebook for life, and I believe it is true with all my heart. However, there's a lot of issues the Bible doesn't specifically address. As long as the issue is not something the Bible tells people to do or not to do, you have to do what God tells you to do. As a friend of mine said, "You do God, and you do you!"
Disclaimer #1 of many: When I refer in this post to people who believe differently than I do, I don't mean in salvation and major moral issues. I mean in stuff like creation theories, political affiliations, and denominations. I actually wasn't referring to Biblical "gray" areas when I started this, but I thought I should get this disclaimer out of the way.
Let's take a trip through life, shall we. (Specifically my life written in the 2nd person)
Growing up, the world is black and white. You disobey - you get punished. You don't disobey - you don't get punished. That's basically all you have to concern yourself with for a while.
Meanwhile, because you're (I) surrounded with people who believe pretty much the exact same things as you and everyone else around you, you tend to view people who believe differently than you as people you could never see yourself associating with in a million years. In fact, people who believe differently than you've been taught have to be humanist scientists or heretical preachers or people who just don't have a clue how the world works.
Disclaimer #2 of more: As a kid, because I had like 3 friends who were not in my church and Christian school, I kinda grew up in a bubble. This was not a bad thing at all. I think parents should be very discerning and involved in who their kids are friends with, and I think my parents made wise choices. Even as you get older being around people who believe the same as you is beneficial and I highly recommend finding at least a few friends that share most of your beliefs so you can hash out stuff together.
However, you start to grow up. You get tired of always hearing the same stuff so you try to look at issues from other people's point of view for a change. And guess, what, you get where they're coming from! You don't agree with a lot of their methods or thought processes, but you can see why they think that way, and you can agree to disagree, and you can have empathy, and the world is wonderful! It's like a whole new world opens up, in color!
|*Louis Armstrong impression: "I see trees of green, red roses too..."*|
Then, through different life and growing up circumstances (including but not limited to changing churches, geographical locations, and hobbies), you meet new people who believe different stuff than you, but, surprise, they're some of the best people you've ever met! And guess what, they're saved, and they love Jesus and they're super cool!
Literally the past 52 weeks have been the most enlightening and stretching for me in this way. Through going to concerts and singings at different denominational churches, to becoming friends with people of opposite political views, to realizing that continually hearing what you've heard all your life and believe ain't gonna help you (I can put my the news through my own worldview without anyone else doing it for me, thank you very much!), I think I've grown a lot.
I know I still have a long way to go, and sometimes my opinions get swayed too much by my friends, but I'm trying to make sure that my beliefs are mine because I think they make sense, not because a friend believes it.
Now, I should probably say that I still don't necessarily agree with most of these people's choices and opinions, and I most certainly am not talking about accepting or condoning sinful choices, but there's a lot of choices in life that aren't sin or not sin.
Being a meat eater does not make you better than vegetarians (or vice versa). Not having a credit card does not mean you're automatically more financially responsible than someone else. Being a Republican or Democrat does not make you any better of a Christian. Going to church on Sunday night or not going to church on Sunday night does not make you more spiritual. Being a Baptist or whatever you want to be, does not make you saved or holy. It's what JESUS did for you. Guys, all of our life choices should be based on JESUS!!!!
And that's what I've been learning the past year :)
Final disclaimer: My parents are wonderful and are the reason that I've grown up with strong absolute values. They are also the reason I've learned to branch out and meet new people and look at new ideas. They are legit the best parents I know.