Sure, Matt and Jarrid differ. But why does it always have to be “versus”?
I am not an issues pundit. I’m not going to chime in on this one. I’m not even an American cultural insider anymore, since I moved away 12 years ago. That ship has sailed.
But maybe it gives me perspective.
I’ll expose myself to ridicule by admitting I’d never heard of Jarrid Wilson before this week. Was he well-known? I clicked into his site and in a few minutes could tell that: he loves his wife and coming child and writes (I like those), he says (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) he loves Jesus, he knows what he’s doing on social media and the web (now we’re opposites), and he’s “with it” more than anyone who’s lived away for 12 years could ever hope to be. First impressions.
Matt Walsh I’ve known about longer, ever since, to be precise, my friend Calvin posted a link to his blog about the Noah movie, whenever it was that that came out.
First impression at the time: That guy can write.
Impression that lasted: he called his blog ugly with a “big deal” attitude as long as content was quality. That became the #1 influencer behind me being okay with this blog being ugly (plus the home page refusing to show summaries, my failure to get “follow” buttons on it, etc., etc.).
Matt’s communication style sent me to reading dozens of back-entries, but I didn’t keep up after that. I noticed at some point that shares of his posts were being linked from a website instead of from his blog.
Now that I’ve established myself as a bonafide non-expert with no dog in the fight, here’s what I know: Some people don’t like Jarrid. I don’t know their reasons—I haven’t read anything explaining this yet. But I know they’re out there. He’s got some position people can’t live with. Or some opinions that are dangerous. (For purposes of writing this article I’m going to keep myself ignorant, but plan to do my homework soon and read the guy.)
There are those who dislike Matt, too. He’s off. Or evil. Or dangerous. I’m equally sure these people exist, though again, don’t know their exact reasons.
Fine. Opinions. Human! But how do we (and by “we,” now, I am narrowing to self-identifying Jesus-followers) lose perspective so quickly and so thoroughly?
I know our culture cannot go on if there’s not a fight, and if there isn’t a fight, one will be invented.
But does anyone else get tired of every variance being turned into “VERSUS”? Any person with a fifth-grade education can see that Matt and Jarrid don’t agree about everything. So? Does that mean they’re arch enemies? Does it demand we begin gushing vitriol, douse them in gasoline and toss on a match? Dress them in blue and gray and resurrect the rebel yell? How far beyond the venom level of either of these men have the Christian netizens sitting in the stands gone? Shouting that the enemy they’ve picked out is the real one?
I think what Jarrid has said is straight from God. We’ve got to stop with the judging. The harshness. The un-love. And isn’t Matt Catholic?
Did I lose you there? Does that taint me in your eyes?
Matt is a prophet. What this guy has written is. spot. on. Can you believe this milquetoast spinelessness that Jarrid is spewing? C’mon, what good are we, Christians, if we don’t take a stand?
Does that taint me in your eyes?
I’m not being serious in either statement.
Are we not allowed to read what two men say and appreciate as well as un-appreciate points from each? And let our fellow man do the same? Maybe my perspective is not unique. Maybe there are a thousand blogs out there already saying this same thing. But I wouldn’t know and haven’t heard, for since when did Sense have reason to go viral?
Must Jesus-followers unfailingly embrace our culture’s propensity for this black&white, either/or inflaming of every discussion until we determine the loser? Which is the Saint and who’s the Wolf? Insist one is God’s man and the other Satan’s tool? Must we absolutely always declare someone totally in the right and someone totally in the wrong?
It’s a sickness.
Matt and Jarrid are just men. Kids, really, to some of us. Are we required to dip every one of their opinions, just because they’re famous, into Quikrete as if neither one of them is going to grow or develop or mature or change? Sure, celebrities must shoulder added scrutiny of their opinions because they’re celebrities. But by forcing every debate into this ultimate “versus” construct, we draw boxes around people so that everyone else who associates with the “wrong” person becomes tainted.
“Francis Chan needs to be boycotted because he shook so-and-so’s hand on their platform” I read once on someone’s blog.
Was Jesus tainted because he “shook Simon the Zealot’s hand” and asked him into his group? (I’m sure he absolutely was in some people’s minds, but) was Jesus’ group about anybody versus Zealots? Was Jesus tainted having thieving Judas? Tax-collecting Matthew? (I’m sure there were plenty of versus-those-guys people, but) Jesus’s plans were bigger than that.
Who would contend it was Jesus’ hope to make Simon more like…John? Or nudge John into learning some things from the Zealots?
Wasn’t his hope for each of these men to move towards being like him?
We can’t do that with Matt and Jarrid?
We can’t we let them say what they want to say, sit back and listen, leave them in God’s hands, and trust Christ without being paranoid someone might trust one of these guys more? I’m not against them debating, I’m against us turning debates into wars that they aren’t. Okay, one of them is wrong. They’re both wrong. They’re both right. I’m not a relativist, I just don’t buy oversimplifying human beings down to an impossible level.
Can’t we “regular,” non-famous folks sometimes—I do not say always—leave theological disagreement alone for the sake of talking about the Kingdom just a little while longer? Do we have to schedule a beat-down at the flagpole before even the bell for second period has rung? Didn’t we all graduate middle school?
Imagine the 12 disciples talking around their campfire. Do you think a collection of men who went to different schools from different parts of town had differing opinions? Heated discussion about hot-button issues? About who was right and who was wrong about Rome, synagogue services, liberals, or whatever? I cannot imagine that they didn’t. As fascinating as those discussions might have been, are they the ones that were passed down to us?
Why not? Were they left out to try and make the disciples look better in our eyes? Ha! You’ve read the NT as well as I have. They were left out because they don’t matter.
The discussions that were passed down to us are the ones the Spirit wanted us to have. Only in hindsight could the gospel authors see The Kingdom as the one thing that mattered from their years with Jesus. The Kingdom was always the big picture, though Jesus was the only one among them who knew it. And lived accordingly.
It’s 2015 and nothing’s changed. Jesus is still all about his Kingdom. We are often all about many other things. The Kingdom matters more than any issue. The Kingdom matters more than where someone is from. The Kingdom matters more than patriotism, though we all love our countries. There’s a better country, people—it’s not on a map.
Doesn’t mean debate can’t be part of being Kingdom people.
Doesn’t mean fighting can’t be part of being Kingdom people.
But do we want to be known most for what we love or for what we hate?
I’d rather sit down for an evening full of meaningful talk (off the record, no audience, must we ruin everything with spotlights and media coverage?) in a group that contained Matt Walsh and Jarrid Wilson—and Bruce Jenner, for that matter—than be a part of the mob outside screaming one of us needs to be crucified.
The One who needed to be crucified… already was. That was the war that mattered. Winning any number of other side ones won’t lead to Life and Living Water.
The Kingdom is within us. We can bring it. Today. And it may well be that you need to fight today. Choose wisely? After all, there is a kingdom of darkness.
There is an Enemy.
His name just isn’t Matt or Jarrid.