Why do you believe what you believe?
That question, and its answer to follow, is just as important to me as what you believe.
That's why I love apologetics and the ministry of evangelism. Both give opportunities to go deep in conversations and really learn about others, to challenge and be challenged. And asking that questions is a means of constantly ridding ones own heart of judgement. How often I assume my friend believe one thing only to discover how wrong I was. Or perhaps I was correct in assessing the what, but the why was totally different than I expected.
As part of my study in the RZIM Core Module, we were asked to do regular interviews with friends who held a different worldview. The interviews were based on the 4 points that define worldview:
Where do we come from?
Why are we here? Why do we have life?
Is there right/wrong good/evil?
If so, how do we know what defines right/wrong?
Where do we ultimately end up?
These interactions were one sided in the sense that we could press issues with further questions, but we could not answer in return. This wasn't practice on arguing a point, but rather on listening and hearing the heart of the person, because as Ravi Zacharias says, "Behind every question is a questioner."
This was my favorite part of the course, as I loved engaging with a few of my friends on these issues, and learning more about how their worldview formed. Sometimes I was quite surprised by their answers, such as one friend who expounded hard on why she believed in evolution, but then followed by saying "but behind the events, to have all the factors interacting, there is
some strong force - a strong might - something miraculous." And another friend on that same question, first acknowledging that our origin is "probably evolution" followed with "But there are questions evolution doesn't answer. I believe in healing, for example, and the power of thoughts or prayers..... Animals don't have a healing capacity like humans, so there are some things that evolution doesn't answer."
Other times I was saddened by how closed the heart of one of the ladies was, though I thought she was much more open. About Yeshua, Jesus, for example, she said, "I just don't think I can believe in
him, because in Judaism, God isn't a human. He's sort of like an
energy." I had no idea until that point that she was intellectually wrestling with that issue, and rejecting the Messiah based on her own religious background that she had also reject.
When you stop and listen, you learn. What I learned from these ladies didn't change my own biblically based worldview, but it did change how I saw each of them, how I pray for them, and it tore down preconceived notions I had about that why question behind the what. And mostly what I learned is that:
Judgement is shallow.
It takes time, care, and humility to dig beneath the surface, and to get over the self that makes assumptions.
We are at one of the greatest partisan divides in history, I believe. At least in recent history. And lately, as I gauge where we are as a body of believers based on reading through the social media posts of my friends, this divide is no less evident in the church.
Having spent 9 years in liberal arts universities, a good many of my believing friends from those years more so identify with the Christian Left, or claim an apolitical position. Honestly, as someone who is conservative in both how I view God's word, and in my political worldview, I feel rejected by a lot of my friends from that persuasion. And its not even necessarily direct, but its the general statements of negativity toward anything conservative feel as just what I said above, shallow judgements.
Thus, I decided to share with you all why it is that I'm politically conservative, and the answer might surprise you.
I'm a conservative because....
I'm a real living and breathing human being.
I have a lived experience. One that has involved parents who passed down values, pain and suffering, joy and pleasures. I'm a thinker, a reader, a researcher - a student of God's word, an honest lover of the Yeshua, Jesus. I'm someone who prays over the media I see, the experiences I live. As a designer, I seek the Lord about solutions and what works best.
A Native American friend once prophesied over me, based on knowledge that my mom's family has an Iroquois Heritage, "You have a great love for government and peace making." He said a little more than that, but he encouraged me to receive these gifts as my inheritance, and he was so right on. My peer group at the time seemed to be holding the Christian left as more freedom based, and the apolitical as the Politics of Jesus (even though under the surface the apolitical worldview isn't really apolitical at all- more on that some other time!). I couldn't fully reconcile either of these perspectives with how I understood scripture and the US constitution, yet often I sort of kept it to myself in the friendship context. On top of that, I've loved civics and government for as long as I can remember. The first notable drawing I made as child was the White House when I was in Second Grade (and I grew up to be an architect). I needed his encouragement to embrace that love as something God nit into my being.
Since it is fun for me, and I have embraced it, I invest spare time in studying how this world works. I do this simply because I'm me, and I enjoy it. (I also really like reading up on what's going on at Disney World, so I'm a nerd on all fronts, forgive me.)
Now living in Israel, I have that many more interests to explore, in the study of how this parliamentary and multiparty system works compared to my beloved US government and constitution. On top of that, there's the UN, and international law. My brain gets its fair share of work, and I like that. You don't have to, but I do! I try to represent my variety of interests in my media outlets, posts about my kids, what I ate that day, ad even politics and government included. I'm a whole person and this is part of my passion. On top of that, I live in the land of loud opinions in Israel, and so I'm not only engaging with my western friends who don't get it, but also my Israeli friends who do. You don't have to love what I love, or use your media outlets like I do, and I certainly never tried to tell anyone otherwise -- how to run their tweets, Instagram, and Facebook status.
But in addressing statuses and clickbate article titles that I see often...
No, I'm not conservative because I think God is a Republican.
No, I'm not conservative because I'm a closet legalist.
No, I'm not conservative because I'm doing what the Christian Right is telling me to do.
No, I'm not conservative because I haven't considered the other perspective.
Did I cover all of the rhetoric?
It doesn't really matter.
I'm conservative because I'm me... and real person... with a real heart and mind. Someone who has sought answers, weighed evidence, and thought through beliefs and solutions. Someone who left home at 26 years old, and moved to the Middle East. Someone who was deeply affected by the choice of abortion by a loved one... Someone who is raising children in a broken world where the blood of my neighbors runs cold in the street due to terrorism and hate. Someone who spent 9 years of my life immersed in the left leaning worldview of the university system. Someone who had a brain tumor. Someone who was raised between the celebrity subculture of professional baseball and the rural South. Someone who's parent's divorced, and merely 7 months later, who's grandparents were killed by an illegal immigrant driving under the influence of alcohol. Someone who's had to learn forgiveness and love. Someone who's had to see my own sin on the cross. Someone who's had to repent.
When all of these experiences, merge with study and prayer, I veer toward the right. If its interesting, I can break it down more nuanced in the future.
I would appreciate being afforded that honor of acknowledgement, though, the one that realizes I'm not a machine or someone who follows a movement blindly. One that recognizes that I'm a person, and my choices have meaning, history, and thought behind them. And maybe even for someone to occasionally ask me about the why.
But isn't that what we all want? Just to be treated as... living?