It’s easy to assume the worst about others. We all do this. The irony is that it’s never easier to be wrong than when we’re right.
I found this early on in my marriage. I was unaware of how condescending I was in how I related to my new wife. The good news is that she helped me discover this; the bad news is that she paid dearly for my blindness.
No matter where we may stand in the current debate over the Rob Bell book, we run the same danger. Here’s what I mean.
If you’re opposed to the message of Love Wins, it’s easy to be cynical about Rob Bell’s motives. It’s easy to sneer when he’s put down. It’s easy to become shrill and judgmental in our critique and project an attitude of superiority. I know, because I’ve been guilty of all of these things.
Likewise, if you think the critics are overwrought, it’s easy to think they have nothing to teach us. It’s also easy to judge their motives and to write them off. I read a critique last night that spoke very harshly against those who are critiquing Bell. There’s room to disagree, but there’s no room to make harsh pronouncements that say more than is helpful or fair. We need to be careful in the way that we critique the critics, even (especially) when we have a point.
In short, don’t fall into one of my besetting sins. Don’t be condescending. I write as one who’s been guilty of this many times. I’m slowly learning that there are better and more effective ways of expressing disagreement, and that I’m never more in danger of being wrong in the way I interact with others than when I think I’m right.