January 28, 2008
“…The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul’…” (Mark 3:22)
Recently, I heard one of our speakers in our prayer group share about a true story (I changed some details so as not to avoid any possible allusion to any individual or group)…
A Christian denomination (“denomination A”) once came up with its Mission Statement. One of its members, Roger (not his real name) decided to show the Mission Statement to his friend, Arnold, who happen to be a member of a different Christian denomination (“denomination B”) in order to test if his friend would agree to sign it even though they belong to two different denominations.
To Roger’s surprise, Arnold, after reading the statement, gladly agreed to sign it. Roger then reported the matter to the leader of his denomination who was known to be anti-ecumenism. The leader’s response was a classic. “Roger,” he began, “the reason why your friend agreed to sign our statement was because he is not a devout member of his denomination.”
After hearing this, Roger decided to bring the statement to the leader of Arnold’s denomination. To his surprise, the leader also agreed to sign the statement. Roger reported the matter to the leader of his denomination. His leader, after musing over the situation, finally replied, “Roger, the reason why the leader of denomination B was willing to sign this statement was because this is a bad statement. Quick, help me re-write it.”
Pride, biases and narrow-mindedness. More often than not, these three team up to prevent unity among us.
When one insists that he is right and the other is wrong.
When one refuses to accept that the other can be right and he can be wrong.
When one fails to see the commonality in the midst of their differences.
And I am not just talking about ecumenism and Christian unity. The same can be said of our governments and politics. Of our companies and organizations. Of our communities and prayer groups. Of our society in general. And worse, even of our families.
Pride: Our parish has more projects than yours.
Bias: The poor are poor because they are lazy.
Narrow-mindedness: I could never work with you because of your personality type.
No wonder the Scribes had a difficult time accepting Jesus.
“…The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul…” (Mark 3:22)
Even if Jesus was talking of the same God they served. Even if His words seemed logical and obviously moral. Even if he sounded holy and upright. They refused to believe. Why?
The triple tag team composed of pride, bias and narrow-mindedness, reared their ugly heads and blinded the scribes to what could have been an opportunity to advance mightily God’s kingdom in their nation.
Friend, sometimes we can fall on the same trap. Our pride prevents us from cooperating with others who seem to be better than us. Our biases can prevent us from working together with those who may be different but are also desirous of achieving for your society or your organization what you hope to achieve for it. Our narrow-mindedness can cause us to miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow from the wisdom and experiences of others.
Today, I challenge you. Put the triple tag team to rest for awhile. Stop burning bridges and instead start building them. Stop slandering and start serving. Stop sowing seeds of criticisms, and start scattering seeds of affirmation. Try to see everyone from the perspective of God.
Let humility, impartiality and open-mindedness be part of your principles starting today. Write it down in black and white. Try going around and get others to believe in it too.
You’ll be surprised, dear friend.
So many out there would be willing to sign that mission statement with you.
Have a blessed Monday!
I remain, your friend in Christ,