Black and White and Gray All Over
I have found myself thinking lately about colors. Well, two in particular: Black and white – and how those colors relate to our lives. I find myself wondering about living in a world of black and white because as I get older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I find more and more gray in this world.
There can be a danger in living in a world of black and white. Black-and-white people are very certain of the blackness and whiteness, of their lives and everything must fall into one of those two colors. And if other people don’t categorize everything as black or white, then they are wrong.
Unfortunately, this world of black or white seems most prevalent in our religious culture. “There is only one correct way to have a relationship with God.” That’s the black-and-white world. And the people of that world spend their time trying to convince others that they are right. We fight with each other about who is more correct instead of uniting and realizing that, just perhaps, there might be more than one path to God.
The problem with the black-and-white world is that it is about rules: A person follows them or they don’t. But where does that leave the person? In the Christian tradition, we are called to care more about people than about rules. If, in our black-and-white world, we condemn a person for not following the rules, we fail to show them the love and grace of God.
Living in a black-and-white world can be an attempt for us to try and make decisions for God – decisions that are not ours to make. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor our ways his ways. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) It is not our job to point out the rules and call a person out if they don’t follow them. It is our job to love. That’s it.
What if people in their black-and-white world took some advice from a clergy colleague of mine? Rev. Caela Simmons Wood asked her congregation to come to every conversation with these four words in the back of their head: “I could be wrong.” That’s caring more about people than about rules. That’s living in shades of gray instead of living in black and white.
So today, embrace the gray! Love people more than rules. Put aside your pride and be willing to admit that maybe you could be wrong. And see how many people you can touch with God’s love.
Rev. Amy Seifert
Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church
St. George, UT