New Wine Collective

The Way to Greater Truth Is Greater Love

The solution to misinformation and the lack of critical thinking in the Church and society as a whole is not more information or making better and louder arguments than our opponents.

It's more love and connection.
It's more empathy and compassion.
It's deeper and richer relationships.

Here's why...

If our base emotion is fear or shame, we cannot help but be reactive and defensive. Safety and love are at the emotional root of what enables humility and curiosity. And without these, it is difficult to learn anything new or engage in critical thinking.

If fear is the underlying emotion, we will tend to exclude and reject any information that does not fit our predetermined worldview. Because we crave safety, we will only listen to things that confirm what we already think and know. We will perceive anything new or different as a threat. However, if our underlying emotions are safety and love, we can be less defensive and more open. We can welcome differences without the need to compete, win, or dominate. We can practice empathy and learn from the perspectives of others.

In a state of fear, our lower "reptilian" brains take over and send blood to our extremities to fight or flee. We've all felt the rush of adrenaline in our bodies in a heated argument and we know how difficult it is to think clearly in that state! When we feel anxious or afraid, we default to quick reactions, and rigid, either/or thinking. But when we feel safe and loved, we gain access to higher cognition, and learning improves. We can slow down and exercise creative and flexible thinking.

Loneliness and isolation make us vulnerable to manipulation through fear, shame, and groupthink. It's how so many people mistake the madness of the crowd for belonging and community. And demagogues know how to use this to their advantage. According to Robert Putnam, "People divorced from community, occupation, and association are first and foremost among the supporters of extremism." We cannot "fight" extremism without making it worse. Blame, shame, and condemnation will only push people further to the edge.

Perhaps this is why Jesus taught love for enemies. He knew love is the only way to heal and change people. Love is what sets us free to be the best versions of ourselves. When we feel safe and loved, we can be open, playful, and vulnerable.

To put it crassly:
Fear makes us dumber.
Love makes us smarter.

That's why everyone needs relationships and community that allow them to feel seen and known, and most importantly, loved and accepted unconditionally. Unfortunately, our current church systems and structures do not seem to be well designed for this purpose. They seem better suited to foster conformity, compliance, and more consumption. Many (but not all) are based on fear, scarcity, and conditional belonging. They encourage feelings of superiority, judgment, and 'us vs. them' thinking. In these ways, the Church in its current form is mostly reinforcing and adding more division, polarization, and hostility to the world — and seems to be largely unaware of it.

If we want to heal the world, we will need to rewire our brains and shift human consciousness on a global scale. And this can only be accomplished through deep systemic change.

What if we could redesign "church" by putting loving relationships back at the center, lowering barriers of entry, and creating social and spiritual containers that are more flexible and adaptable to people's actual needs? We could see more people finding belonging and genuine spiritual community. We could see more loving and compassionate people in the world. We could see more peacemakers and empathetic listeners. We could see more good neighbors and strong interwoven communities. Over time, we could see a shift in culture — from one captive to fear to one liberated by love. Then together, we will be able to see more fully and more clearly than we ever could when we were divided and separate from one another.

The Bible tells us we only see and know in part (1 Cor 13), and the only way we can gather all of our disconnected parts into a more complete whole is through the practice of love.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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