The fine line between calling out bad behavior in others and ridiculing them illuminates the key to Christian unity.

I recently read a very good article which brought to light some hidden agendas and techniques used by a particular group of people to inappropriately politically manipulate an institution to which they theoretically belong. I enjoyed the article, but as seems to happen so often, I became very concerned with some of the comments.

They mocked and ridiculed, rather than expressing charity and concern. And for some reason, I have a harder time with that than I do with people who disagree with me using poor tactics. In fact, just these kinds of concerns have distanced me from groups on BOTH sides of ideological divides who might otherwise be my allies.

This ties into a long-standing argument with myself. I have a hard time feeling like I belong to a group. Inevitably, whatever group I try to join eventually rolls around to discussing those who disagree with them. Such conversations almost always devolve into separation tactics: ridicule, demeaning, dehumanizing, etc. These tactics lay along a line that I will not cross, and I become alienated.

Someone once said to me that people first and foremost want to know if you're on their side. This assertion has lurked in my mind ever since. I have a hard time understanding it. I just don't think of the world in terms of "on my side" or "not on my side." But apparently, most people do.

When in a group, people seem to adapt towards the mores of that group. If you start out agreeing mildly with the Whisk Superiority Club that the best way to scramble eggs is with a hand whisk, you might enter the community initially to learn tips and tricks to hand whisking. But as you converse and create bonds with community members, it is apparently a natural conclusion to drift from mild agreement to full-blown spite towards anyone who uses a mixer. They are defined as lazy, ignorant, and ridiculous.

Natural or not, I expect better than ridicule from a group of people who profess to follow Christ. Christ taught that we should turn the other cheek, walk twice as far with our enemies as they force us to do. Scriptures teach us that soft answers turn away wrath. It is a delicate balance, speaking boldly with charity, but it is the only way to soften hearts—theirs AND yours.

I don't think there is any other path to Christian unity. Only through sacrifice of ego, putting it on a back seat to charity and compassion, can the way be opened for the Spirit to manifest truth. Truth without Spiritual witness is useless. Charity is a choice. It is charity that we must possess when we approach our Lord more than any other Christian value. It is charity that can ultimately save all who will invite it into their hearts.

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