[This post is part of the Reshaping Christian Habits series]
Originally I had the idea for this post apart from this series, but it does fit. Think of it like this, as part of reshaping your habits, there may some games you are unconsciously playing in your Christian community that you should probably quit. If they are unconscious, you don’t know they may have become habits and well, you can’t eliminate a habit you don’t know you have. If you don’t find yourself in the examples below, it is probably because this list isn’t exhaustive and you should probably suggest I add some. Here are the 5 that I thought of:
Game #1 Lone Ranger and Tanto
In this game, you play the Lone Ranger, separately from any meaningful community, but not without some level of companionship. You have at least one Tanto (which is Spanish for “stupid”) who follows along and validates you either in what you think, or in your choice of separatist lifestyle. You may fancy yourself a vigilante and feel that you don’t need community because you know better than they would about how to live. This game is actually more of a non-game since the only one playing is you.
Game #2 Socrates and the Athenians
Here, you play the eternal questioner. You are perhaps not well liked by the community (the Athenians) because of your habitual Socratic method. There is certainly nothing wrong with raising questions, but in this game, it is raised to an art form and the goal is not so much new understanding but an undermining of the authorities. Questions are a way of being clever and subverting rather than a means to build up the body in unity. You are of course only trying to help, and if anyone raises a fuss, you were after all, only asking questions.
Game #3 Luther and the Pope
I’ve mentioned this one before in passing, but this one is popular among the young, restless Reformed crowd. Here, you are of course a Reformer who is trying bring things back to their biblical roots. Long forgotten doctrines must be revived and often a Pope or two stands in the way of that. Following Luther’s lead, you tend to demonize those that oppose you doctrinally. If no one will play Pope, you’ll just open a dialogue with an Erasmus. Either way, correct doctrine is much more important than loving your neighbor. Rather than going for both/and you jettison the latter whenever a Pope stands in the way of renewal.
Game #4 Stephen and the Religious Leaders
In this particular game, you are the martyr, stoned by the powers because they will hear nothing of your new-found faith. They just don’t get it and you are being progressively marginalized for your forward thinking. It is not possible that you may be staying off into to error and they are only trying to lovingly correct you. No, in this scenario you paint yourself the martyr and the game unfolds accordingly.
Game #5 Jesus and the Pharisees
Perhaps an extension of the last one but with more hubris added, here you are in the role of Jesus and people that disagree with you play the role of Pharisees. I probably would not have thought of this one except that a well known author who recently released a book to strong backlash made comments along this line in an interview. One can only guess who I might be thinking about. Anyway, you can’t really be teachable if you put yourself in the sandals of Jesus and view everyone as either faithful disciples or shrewd Pharisees out to undermine you. In this mindset/game everyone either sits at your feet or sets out to get you.
Now, some of these may be exaggerations, and maybe many of us don’t play these kinds of games often. But if you do, it tends to become a habit that will need to be deconstructed. I had a few years where I was fond of playing Luther and the Pope. Navigating away from that kind of mindset can be tricky, but I think I’m getting there. I’d like to be more constructive in the next few posts, but though as I’m gather thoughts on them together, this was worth throwing out there to see if there may be some deconstruction in order before proper building starts.