Our youngest grandson, now two weeks and two days old, is out of bounds to loving visitors. Our daughter and son-in-law requested an exclusion zone after being told by the doctor – and then the hospital – that the young chap had acquired a viral chest infection.
Having come out of four weeks of the worst chest infection of my life, my conscience is pricking. I hope I am not the one to have troubled this young life and new parents with avoidable health concerns. Mum and Dad have been kind enough to say there were so many visitors that it could have been anyone.
No medical miracles. Simply good house – and health – keeping. Stuff that floats through the air, in molecules of bodily vapour, in atoms of bodily fluids exchanged innocently skin to skin. Stuff we cannot see or smell, touch or hold, stop or make go away.
I saw a documentary that said how recent generations are more prone to viral infections. That with better housing, better hygiene, and “better lifestyles” we have been isolated more and more from virus “stuff”. That new lives need exposure to as wide a range of viruses as possible at a young age so their bodies can learn what is good and what is not. An education that will keep them safe as they grow older.
Seems to me living is about that as well. Being exposed to a range of things. Doing different things. Learning about different ways of life, different lifestyles, different beliefs, different biases, different presuppositions dressed up as facts – belief based evidence – preference based evidence – worldviews we carry as “that’s the way it is”.
When “that’s the way it is” is, more usually, the way we prefer things to be – the way we like our comfort zones – what we call comfortable life and living. Nothing to disturb or challenge (too much), nothing to require too much change (and all that uncomfortable stuff).
And just like our grandson right now, we prefer to insulate ourselves from those who think differently, who live and love differently – who are “different”. We prefer the company of those who think as we do. Those who want to belong by changing to think as we do (so we don’t have to).
Christians do it. Atheists do it . Those who call themselves free-thinkers do it. Those who call themselves any one of a range of labels do it. Or else labels have no purpose or value. And belonging is inclusive to all. Because – just like our new grandson – we might be infected by those who are different. And that would never do!
Jesus was immune to any such “infection of belief”.
I read how he walked with all, talked with all, ate with all, lived amongst all. And whether that is a true and historically accurate or not is irrelevant to me. That debate is a comfort zone argument … a label argument … a presupposition argument.
I read about Jesus and I see someone I want to be. Someone who is inclusive. Who has no fear of different lifestyles, beliefs, journeys, comfort zones. Someone who is comfortable with any and all. Someone who is kind. Someone who is not simply “nice”, but someone without need of labels and belonging to this group (but not that).
And the biggest pushback I find is from those with labels (and comfort zones). Those who need me to state my credentials – my beliefs (which change year on year) – my biases and presuppositions – my comfort zones – and my willingness to belong. Who demand (nicely) that I fit in, that I learn the ropes, that I find out who is who (and who is not). Or else I cannot belong.
And I have learned it is not a religious thing, not even a faith thing. Just like viruses and stuff we cannot see or touch – it is a human thing – a global thing – a comfort zone thing.
So whether you are a Christian or an Atheist or any other kind of label, I have two questions:
1) Why must I change to become like you for you to accept who I am?
2) What does that say about you rather than me?