Well there are many obstacles that stand in the way of healthy relationships, as long as they remain in place it will always lead to unhealthy community.
I've been very aware of how suspicion leads to mistrust and when these exist healthy relationship is just impossible. Assumptions we hold about people don't make what we convince ourselves is true about them actually true. Assumptions create walls that separate us and make it impossible to embrace each other.
Why do we do this to others? I think it is because of fear. Usually from what I have observed it happens when one or more find themselves in disagreement with another person or group. Which then brings me to the next question and observation. Why do we think we all have to agree on everything and see everything exactly the same? I think it is because of the fear most people live in daily.
Let me share something a friend said to me about this the other day in a conversation.
"There is no risk in conversations of agreement; just the smooth ride on a road with no curves, turns or bumps, no jostling, no mistakes. There is a degree of certainty in conversations of agreement; you have a sense about where you stand and you stand not alone. The presence of another, in fact, justifies where you stand, and supports you along with your sense of value. In the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, everyone joins together to embrace the certainty afforded by agreement, only to have it challenged and destroyed by a child who told the truth. If he had been an adult, at best he would have been accused of having an agenda, of trying to overthrow the kingdom, or being a rebel...or crucified. "
I think we are afraid to actually believe differently than those around us. I think it begins when we are children. Say something different than what the majority think and you are laughed at and made fun of. Powerful messages are sent to us beginning when we are children. When we experience exclusion for the first time and then a second time and so on......we begin to say to ourselves, "Having a thought that is different than the status quo is just too painful." Fear now has it's way with us. Our personal prisons begin to form around us at this point. Some of them are erected by others but most of them are built by ourselves. They are built on lies and assumptions and they create an illusion....an alternative existance not grounded in fact.
This fear continues to grow as we grow because we begin to see that the world is full of people that are as afraid as we are. The world that we live in seems to be very unpredictable. This unpredictability leads us to attempt to control the things that we are afraid of. In this case I am speaking of today, it is relationships with people who think differently than we might think. I'm going to let my friend add something here again by way of the conversation he and I was having.
"Lies are the bars of the cage we construct to erect the illusion of certainty.
In any conversation, there is the potential that we will run up against such bars, such lies, and we must remember to continue to abide in the One who can take down bars in such a way as to leave the prisoner intact, but free "...the Spirit of the Lord is upon me to...". For those who have lived years inside the confinement of such a prison, freedom in any form can be terrifying and the messenger of freedom considered the enemy."
Because of this reality that is created by these personal prisons we have erected, relationships rarely ever go deep. They must remain superficial because if someone gets too close and they happen to "see" things differently then we do, we feel threatened and vulnerable. We then feel out of control. To get beyond this, we need to realize that this control is one of the illusion. We can't control that which is uncontrollable. All we can do is expel that which we disagree with. This is where one of our relational problems begin. If we can't get the one that "believes" differently than we do, or "sees" things differently than we do, to "see" it our way.......we exclude them from our life. Or at least make them feel uncomfortable or convince them that they are not free to express their feelings and thoughts.
These expectation we place on others distort every relationship we are in. Actually when this is how we operate.....we have no healthy relationships. We are prisoners to the tyranny of expectations of agreement.
Jesus said: The world will know you are my disciples because of the love you have for one another.
Where there are expectation of conformity of thought......there is no love or harmony.
I have posted this before and I am sure it will not be the last time you see it here on this blog because I believe it is so important for us to understand. The world has no clue as to how to do this due to the polarization caused by our need for conformity of thought and belief. For the Christian.....the one who desires to follow Jesus.....this must change. We need to learn to listen without being threatened by alternative thought. We will be hard pressed to find any more of an alternative thought then that of the God we say we trust in.
We need to learn to listen!!!!!!!!
NT Wright's advice seems to be great advice when we run up against statements that challenge our present understanding.
"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology."