06 January 2008

Chimps and Champions

If you have been reading blogs for very long you know how easy it is to lose complete track of time in them. If you have a favorite blogger that mentions his or her favorite blog, you're very likely to click a link and go see for yourself what the attraction is. We adults trade links to blogs like kids trading or playing a game of cards. If someone doesn't have a blog that addresses the issue you are looking for there is always Google so you can 'go fish.'

One of my dear friends gave me a link the other night and I clicked it. I feel a bit like Cypher in The Matrix, I wish I had taken the blue pill. The world that opened when I clicked that link catapulted me out of the safety of my naive little world and plunked me into the middle of a controversy. I wasn't shocked but I was dismayed and saddened. It wasn't the topic of the conversation that bothered me, it was the tenor of it. While this medium leaves entirely too much interpretation to the reader regarding tone of voice and such, meanness and blatant attempts at hurtfulness are difficult to disguise. Much to my horror the participants were, for the most part, professing Christians.

I wish I could take a class in the social psychology of blog readers and those who post comments. It would be a fascinating observational study. I keep poking my head in and watching the participants and making mental notes. It reminds me a bit of an assignment I had as a physical anthropology student at a secular college. I was asked to go to the San Francisco zoo and spend several hours observing various primate behaviors. It meant sitting for hours and waiting for something to happen and then documenting the activity. We were told to look for particular behaviors; play, posturing, aggression, dominance and the like. The chimpanzees put on quite a show for me.

A couple of the chimps decided to play and then others joined in. Soon frolicking got rough and somebody became angry. Hoots and hollers turned to screams. Then the beatings started happening. The whole troop became involved. Suddenly those chimps who weren't game enough to join in before found themselves in a position to either join in the fight or run for cover. Displays of teeth and terror came next and almost as suddenly as it started, the two chimps at the center of the fray were done. They had been stared down by an old chimp, regained their sense of chimp propriety and sat quietly. Some of the onlookers carried on for a bit and managed to get in a couple cheap shots at the two and some others in the group they weren't too friendly with. Soon even they settled down and order was restored. It occurs to me when I compare the two incidents, is it any wonder the world thinks we evolved from apes? We tend to act just like them.

There are people I love and admire on both sides of this cyber donnybrook. Mercifully, not all comments were sinful. Sadly, some were. As heartbreaking as it is to see the hurtful things being posted, there was a incredible thing that I might have missed the full significance of if it hadn't been pointed out to me. First, one of the participants asked for forgiveness. I wish I could say that the cacophony of chaos and nasty words ceased at that moment. Alas, people still shot words like poison arrows dipped in the venom of their own opinions and pride. But there in the middle of it one brother asked for forgiveness and was heard by another brother who not only granted forgiveness but asked for it in return. These two men modeled the gospel like champions right before our eyes. A beautiful symphony of grace that will be missed by those who cannot seem to remember their responsibilities as recipients of the gospel.

Ephesians 4:1-3
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,}
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Philippians 1:27
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

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