I was reading my brother Mark’s newspaper column on his recent trip to Austria (his son and daughter-in-law were there on Emily’s Fullbright Scholarship) and in it he made a great observation: that seeing people up close, face to face helps open your mind to their otherwise seemingly obtuse policy positions. The world of ideas is important & exciting but without relationship it too easily becomes a world of hardened positions.
Europeans, for example, tend to look down on Americans because we “still” have the death penalty. We tend to look down on the French for, well, there’s not enough space in this post to fill in the blank.
All of this reminds me of a dangerous creeping sin of our time: condescension. The automatic supposition that someone else’s view is “stupid” or “ignorant” is a symptom. Similarly, when we find ourselves easily “outraged” (re-read the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matt 18) we skate on condescension’s thin ice. It’s condescending for leaders to get easily frustrated with God’s non-full time servants, who usually have excellent observations and ideas on how the kingdom can mature and move forward! It’s equally condescending for members to micro-manage or critique full time leaders while assuming “they don’t get me” or the like.
So let’s look up, not down (our pants may be falling down). Let’s look up to one another, to emphasize what we admire about one another, what we can learn from and imitate in one another. Make it your habit.
The French make great champagne.