by Jennifer Keller Puebla
It takes a lot of guts to do the right thing. Takes even more when those closest to you tell you not to. Tell you you’re wrong.
Wrong to think. Wrong to speak. Wrong to believe. Wrong to act.
Herd mentality is real. And within the human herd we have everything from generic group swagger to cliques and even cults. People seldom like to walk alone. The narrow way is just too lonely when you place your value as a human being in other human beings.
Jesus said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ” Luke 14:26
He was explaining the serious consequences of going against the herd and that we must be willing to have it appear we hate all else in comparison to our loyalty to Him, to doing the right thing. And it’s not just true for Christians. Even if you’re not a Believer, most people accept that Jesus was a “great teacher” who gave us lessons in compassion and love taught in wisdom and truth. His example is valid for everyone in our world today.
We will all at some point, probably at many points, face a serious dilemma of principle, integrity, and character. It might be a situation at work or maybe in our marriage.
It could be in our social circle or even at church. We will be called to chose a path, make a stand, or refuse to remain silent.
When we speak for those who have no voice, encourage others toward compassion, refuse to tolerate injustice and hate we tap into the message of Christ which was “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Just like His family members urged Him to stop teaching ours may wish to silence us.
Just like He was hated we too will be hated. For bucking the system, refusing to conform, crossing the establishments of secular and religious leadership, leaving our boxes, for coloring outside the lines. For leaving the herd
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor during WWll in Germany. The Nazi government closed his church in 1937 but he never stopped speaking out against Hitler’s government and the culture of hate that was sweeping the nation.
One of his most famous quotes is “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
In 1945, at the age of 39 he was hanged. He missed the liberation of the camp he was held in by only a few days. His last words were “This is the end–for me, the beginning of life.” He chose his path, he stood his ground, he refused to remain silent. He believed the price was worth it.
The biggest reason politics is such a volatile subject is because it brings principles and character to the surface. We see others in the brash light of their true nature and have that light shown on us as well. What we see isn’t always pretty, in others or in the mirror.
What we see in others we often use as a target or ammunition and what we see in ourselves we may bury under denial or transform into sanctimonious victimhood. We point fingers. “But” becomes our favorite word. Comparison our native language. Deflection our strongest tool.
It is not “politics” that turns friends, family, coworkers, and total strangers against each other but the emotional rifts and intellectual conflicts the issues within “politics” represent. It’s the attachments issues have to our morality and character or lack thereof. Dictionary.com defines Integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”
A very necessary aspect we must embrace in order to have integrity is humility.
The ability to admit when we are mistaken, when we have been deceived, and when our best intentions paved the wrong road. It can be very embarrassing to realize you were wrong, that you were gullible rather than discerning.
Waking up can hurt deeply both because you see those you hurt and you see the true colors of the those with whom you’ve surrounded yourself.
Ultimately only opinions can be kept to oneself. Principles will always come out, for good or bad, in word or deed. They are choices of your soul. To quote a famous movie line “Choose wisely”
Taking that step to leave the earthly comfort of the herd, the protection it offered and the camaraderie is tough! Finding you have to distance yourself from friends or even family to follow Jesus’ principles of love, truth, servant-hood, and sacrifice may feel at first like you are plummeting off a cliff. But as your burden becomes more He (or we) than Me your wings will unfold and you WILL discover you can fly.