Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
Okay, I admit it, I was/am an RBG fan. I know, it’s kind of ridiculous… a guy at my age, hanging on her every word, her very precise diction, her exquisite use of language. Her ability to use one word instead of three with such clarity of meaning was to me as foreign as riding a unicycle. And she was funny! You just had to wait for her little grin and the punchline. “The Notorious RBG.” Amazing how this 100-pound waif of constitutional acumen and willful determination became such a rock star. This has nothing to do with political posturing, this is about the person of grace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG. I do not think I am alone in saying I will miss her terribly.
I took particular bewilderment and delight in her relationship with her former Supreme Court Jurist Antonin Scalia. Philosophically they were about as opposite as opposite could be. It was amazing how the same Constitution could yield such diﬀerent consequences in their deliberations. None the less, their personal relationship was obviously something that was mutually cherished. They were for me a perfect example of how diﬀerences in relationships are mostly “task” as opposed to “personal.”
My experience in conflict resolution is that the majority of relationship diﬀerences are task versus personal. My general counselor formula is 95% task and 5% personal. That is, by far and away the majority of our diﬀerences with one another are task – we disagree on opinion, on how to accomplish a task, e.g. she thinks Dem, he thinks Rep. The problem is that people tend to invert the formula; we make it personal as opposed to simply disagreeing on how to accomplish the task. RBG and Scalia did it right. Their disagreement on task resolution never got in the way of their personal relationship. A wonderful example. In the language of faith, I think of this as grace.
When it comes to God’s attitude towards us, I believe the witness of scripture is that it is both. God takes our separation from God and from one another personally. As a consequence, the whole story of Christ’s Passion is a selfless task to be accomplished first by Jesus, “Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” And then secondly we are charged as followers of Jesus to continue the work of the cross even though the person in front of us might well be a flat-out jerk. (I play golf with some of them, I confess I sometimes have fantasies about one of them tasting the shape of a driver… keep that between us, okay?) Not withstanding my personal small faith struggles, Saint Paul sums up our life of faith…
“… that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor. 5:19-20
This is for me kind of a humbling realization, God is making his appeal through me, through you. This is the task for us to get our faith around. Given our sinful proclivities we would rather keep it personal, that is, since that person is a jerk, I am not interested in the task of being an ambassador for Christ to that person. Sometimes being a disciple for Christ is as much what we don’t say as it is what we do say.
I think this is where I am supposed to say relevant things about the world falling apart and how all our stressors are pulling us apart, which is the consequence of sin. Well, I’m not. You know all of that. Here is my question, with whom do you need to be an agent for reconciliation? That’s the question, that’s the task. I believe if we truly functioned as Christ’s ambassadors, one relationship at a time, the rest of the stuﬀ will work out. At least, I think, that’s how that lovely diminutive Jewish Jurist RBG did it.
Okay, I have to go pull a driver out of a jerk’s mouth (figuratively speaking of course). Be at peace, God loves us, we can do this.