Funny thing is, individual people, regardless of political or religious leanings, are people—a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re not so different. We just have different ways of thinking and different roads by which we want to change the world.
But we are a funny lot. We like to clump together into our varying change-the-world camps . . . and we start creating a caricature of the enemy. Some ugly story is highlighted and packaged and sent forward to reinforce the disdain for The Others. We build camp unity around our common enemies.
Christians do this well, I’m sad to say. We’ve done a great job telling the world what we are against, raging against the other camps and what they stand for. And this persona has stuck. It is a sticky idea that is reinforced in society through unintentional but damaging words and actions (and equally damaging silence and inaction).
Everyone seems to know what Christians are against, even people who know not even one Christ follower.
But does anyone know what Christians are for?
Not really. The caricature is sticky, indeed.
Is there any hope for unsticking this sticky, ghastly Christian caricature?
Well, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath give us some advice for removing a sticky idea in their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, the selection for the High Calling book club that wraps up today.
Fight sticky with stickier, meet Scotch tape with duct tape.1
The caricature of the anti-everything Christian is sticky. It is like Scotch tape. Only a new idea plastered down with duct tape will overcome it.
If all camps—Christian and non-Christian alike—rally around a common enemy, what if we recast the villain? We need a sticker, mightier enemy, one around which all camps can rally. Here we can find common ground in a common enemy.
As truth would have it, that common enemy exists. He is the one who comes to steal and kill and destroy—all of us. He is the culprit. He is the instigator behind our camps and fighting. He has used the divide-and-conquer strategy against us.
And we’ve fallen for it.
Now, how do we raise up this sticker—truer—idea?
I think it begins by Christians rallying their camps around Christ—and not around an enemy. If we rally around mercy and justice and love that is moved to action to care for the outcast and the orphan and the widow, that idea will grow larger than the caricature and will soon overshadow the old.
This is good. And eternally sticky.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Read other Made to Stick posts from this week here.
1. Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (New York, NY: Random House, 2008), 282.