We are one in the Spirit,
we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit
we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity
may one day be restored:
And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians
By our love.
Remember the old song? We sang it in church a lot, in the ’70s. Is it true? I wonder.
This column got me thinking along those lines.
Raised in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, I was primed ‘n ready to give a reason to anyone who asked about the hope that was in me (1 Peter 3:15). Problem was, no one asked. Is that their fault, or mine? I don’t know.
I remember going to grad night at King’s Island my senior year. I went with my friend and her parents, and we had just gotten on the road when we came across a horrific car accident. My friend and I stayed in the car while her parents got out and were helping the people get out of their car, holding bleeding and scared children, etc.
When I got home, I told my mom about this. She started crying. I was always traumatized by my mom crying, although she usually reserved these bouts for issues regarding her in-laws. This time, she said, “Your friend’s family aren’t even Christians!”
The insinuation being, we were Christians, and yet, I couldn’t imagine our family stopping and helping people who’d had a car crash.
Some of my best friends aren’t Christians, to my knowledge. They are kind. They lead good lives. If they’re facing severe inner turmoil or emptiness, I see no evidence. What can I make of this? It’s a conundrum, to be sure.
I wonder how much of our behavior stems from our religious beliefs, and how much from our basic personality. Remember studying the four basic temperaments in high school psych classes? Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic and Melancholy? If you could choose the one you least wanted, it would probably be melancholy — yet that’s the one I pulled out of the hat.
I’m Eeyore-come-to-life, glass is half empty, supply your own cliche. As a toddler, Mom recorded me fretting that Santa would most likely get cancer from smoking that pipe. I love it, because that is so me. And yet, how should I reconcile this temperament with having the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart?
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis regarding the interaction of our temperament and the way we live our lives:
Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us; all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises. (Mere Christianity: Morality and Psychoanalysis)
So, there is your thought for the day. What has your experience been? Have the Christians you’ve known been the most loving people in your life? Should our religion overcome our temperament? Or is that even possible?