Several years ago Michael Lerner wrote a book called “The Politics of Meaning.” Lerner said that too often we give up on our deepest held values of compassion, caring and community because they do not seem practical in the real world. Instead, an ethos of selfishness and materialism prevails by default. These are the values that we settle for when our deeper values seem out of reach. Selfishness and materialism erode community and make it less possible to live the life we want. It puts us more out of purpose. Jonah’s way seems easier at first, but in the end we will get thrown overboard and end up in the belly of the whale.And so we lose our perspective so easily on what God is really calling us to.
In the church there is a relentless battle for the orthodox high ground. Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians don their traditional denominational colors to joust back and forth.
The most contentious issues relate to baptism (when and how), the nature of biblical inspiration and authority, the limits of the atonement, the creation debate, not to mention sexuality .
Somebody said of Church people that “we would rather be right than nice,".
While I'm not sure being a Christian equates with "nice," the point is well-taken. Although Paul maintains that while faith, hope and love abide, "the greatest of these is love," I believe that many Protestants have decided that the greatest of these is actually faith—as in "orthodoxy" of one sort or another—and that little else matters, least of all incarnation.
S.T. Kimbrough suggests that evangelism is increasingly difficult not because our pluralism, consumerism or attention span makes us resistant, but because we fail to incarnate the love we preach. We can't persuade others that we are people of peace because there is so much strife and contention among us—and we are often more eager to be right, or to win, than to be loving. We offer forensic invitations to discipleship—come think like us—instead of a mutually transforming hospitality: come be with us; let's learn together.