There is a terrible rumor going around. “The problem with the world is them.” That’s the rumor. I hear it spread on the news. And at the water cooler. And in neighborhood churches. And the solution is always the same. “If only.”
“If only they would be more like us.”
“If only they would see it like it really is.”
“If only they would believe this thing about God/politics.”
Or to summarize them all: “If only they would stop being them. And be more like us.”
But I have a suspicion. That the problem with the world isn’t “them.” Once we see that to them, we are the “them,” we see the violent cycle we have found ourselves in. No, the problem isn’t with them. Perhaps part of the problem lies in the rumor itself. Perhaps the rumor says nothing about reality but only speaks volumes about the person who speaks it.
The rumor doesn’t allow the “Other” to be themselves but always beckons them to be “Me.” It manipulates the hearer, making them think that “all would be well” if you would just give up being you, to be like me.
The rumor is a display of pride, not humility. It is a display of power, not weakness. To speak the rumor is not to defend Christ but to defend ourselves. The news that is spread in the rumor is not good for “them,” but only good for “us.” And as such, it cannot be the Gospel, which is good news for all.
We must give up on the rumor. We must pronounce it a lie. But once we do, then the truth emerges. If the problem isn’t with them, then who? Then us. To pronounce the rumor a lie is an act of self-condemnation. That is, to pronounce the rumor a lie is a display of humility, not pride. It is a display of weakness, not power.
And as long as the Church believes the rumor, our hypocrisy will know no bounds. And we will be ignored. Rightly so.
“Look here, now!” the North-Going Zax said, “I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!”
“Who’s in whose way?” snapped the South-Going Zax.
“I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove.”
Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride.
“I never,” he said, “take a step to one side.
And I’ll prove to you that I won’t change my ways
If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!”
“And I’ll prove to YOU,” yelled the South-Going Zax,
“That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!”
Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.