There are few things that aggravate me more than narrow-mindedness and ignorance rooted in ethnocentrism, particularly from Christians. Furthermore, I do not like my perspective or opinion being dismissed simply on the grounds that I'm "young" and have been "taught differently."
I attend Bible study to learn about God and to study Scripture, not to be exposed to people's fallacious beliefs that stem from an ungodly sense of patriotism. As believers, our loyalty should be to God first, not whatever human construction we deem our "homeland." Moreover, our interpretation and understanding of Scripture should not be limited to that with which we are comfortable. God is a God of challenges, of stretching, of growth. He tells us that we won't understand everything, and it is highly presumptuous of us to attempt to explain the mysteries in Scripture by boiling it down in terms that we comprehend and are comfortable with.
One of the aspects of the current study that we are doing in my Bible study that I don't like is that it's entirely too brief. How do you go through the book of Revelation in eleven weeks and do it justice? As much as I have respected Beth Moore as a teacher in the past, this is one where I really feel like she has bitten off more than she can chew. And in the DVD session last night, she made some claims that I felt were not only unbiblical, the conclusions she came to had no logic to them.
I'm not going to get into all the details because I don't want to skeeve anyone out, but there were some comments from several of the women in my study along the lines of "America is a nation founded on God's principles" and "America isn't mentioned anywhere in Scripture so there's no way we can be a part of the confederation of rulers who will lead to the beast's appearing." Also, the whole anti-Obama thing? Please. It's getting old. He's not the anti-Christ. Period.
Ultimately, our highest calling is to love God and the second is to love one another. Jesus' desire for us was that we would be united in Spirit, and I strive to honor that. But I don't appreciate it when people are too wrapped up in their own knowledge, "I've studied Revelation seven times" (yes, we know, you've only mentioned that a couple dozen times since we started this study), and their limited perspective of the world that their version of being united is to try to convince me that I'm wrong because I don't believe what they do. I also strongly dislike being treated as though my insight isn't as valuable as yours because I haven't studied this particular book of the Bible numerous times. It doesn't matter how many times you've studied it if the perspectives the teachers are coming from are all the same. The purpose of learning is to be exposed to various perspectives and to broaden your understanding and discernment, not to mindlessly absorb what people are telling you to think.
Living in this area has been challenging for Nich and me in many ways, but this limited love for the bigger world from local Christians is one of our greatest sorrows. We've heard our brothers and sisters in Christ make comments about feeling unsafe because Obama's in office (due to his heritage), about customer service representatives who don't speak English properly, about the kiosk workers at the mall (many of whom are Middle Eastern).
Loving humans is hard.
It's hard for us to know when to hold our tongues and when to call them out.
It's harder still when we do confront the ethnocentrism and they don't comprehend that they are being prejudiced.
"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner