Loving the Wacky, Not Their Wackiness – Welcoming Differences, Avoiding Division – Part 6
God can use anyone. Even an ass!
Editor’s Note: I have been referring to Rob as a pastor of Real Life Ministries in past posts. I was incorrect. Rob and his wife are in full time ministry with Light and Life Bible Ministries. Rob pointed out that one of their ministry’s blogsites is called Real Church Life as opposed to me being a pastor with a church called Real Life Church.
This is the sixth post in Rob’s series entitled Welcoming Differences, Avoiding Divisions. In my opinion it is a series every church goer should read and ponder. I am grateful to Rob for allowing me to reprint his seven-part series here on FHG in its entirety. Enjoy.
Exploring the possibility of real unity under one roof despite differences of opinion
We Cannot Separate
It’s sometimes really tricky handling people of different persuasions in the Body of Christ. In fact, some are so weird and wacky that I am inclined to want to dismiss them altogether. Creating separation seems easiest and safest, but as previously discussed; this only causes the problem of endless schisms.
So, instead of separating ourselves from other parts of the Body, (which is a ridiculous idea when we consider a physical body), what should we do? Can’t we simply point out what we consider to be error while recognizing and esteeming the truths held in common?
Living With One Another’s Nonsense
It should be everyone’s right to openly discuss and if necessary confront the teaching of anyone else both within and without one’s immediate group. Now, when pointing out error, we must avoid tarring people and everything that they have done based on the crazy things related to them.
My own challenge is to remember that the errors and outcome of a man’s ways don’t totally disqualify all that he has said and stood for. If that were the case, then I would have to stop reading what Solomon, Luther, Calvin …and, dare I say, even I have written.
You see, although the source and outcomes might not always be healthy, those propagating their beliefs may nevertheless be gifted, anointed and used by God to be dispensers of certain truths and, despite their flaws, are making a significant difference. I grew up as a Catholic and although I would warn against a lot of their teaching and practices, I nevertheless appreciate the truths that they taught me. Luther might have felt the same.
If I am truly following the Shepherd, then I can recognize when He is speaking through the various members in the Body. Especially, if I dismiss any claims to hierarchy and the trappings of the guru culture that so often form around certain gifted personalities.
Even though it’s difficult at times, let’s choose to foster healthy relationships with all in the body of Christ and realize that a somewhat unhealthy body part can still be beneficial to the parts around them. And by doing this, they can possibly become healthier.
“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2-3).
Let’s allow for environments that champion fellowship based on discovering truth in love. This means getting comfortable with open disagreement over issues rather than needing consensus in order to enjoy fellowship. Needing consensus is a naïve ideal that when pursued at all costs, ultimately produces division. Then, it goes on to breed false conformity maintained through ignorance and fear, constant immaturity, and guru followers rather than Jesus followers and students of God’s word.
In my next post I’ll share more on this hope of growing in unity through recognizing that it already exists!
Other posts in this series:
Part 3: Blissfully Ignorant in My Church
Part 4: The Problem of Being Different in Church
3 thoughts on “Loving The Whacky, Not Their Whackiness — Welcoming Differences, Avoiding Division Part 6”
Great post. I think another challenge is in your statement “realize that a somewhat unhealthy body part can still be beneficial to the parts around them.” I don’t disagree, but I think the challenge that comes up is – when does somewhat unhealthy become damaging to the body? Given the paucity of Biblical literacy in the church a lot of Christians don’t recognize the dangers of false teaching. I’m probably being a little cynical, but there are times when I’ve tried to lovingly point out an error and been called judgmental just for bringing it up. But I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying, in fact, I would even say that if we kick out everyone we disagree with we’ll no longer be able to reach them. “Choosing to foster healthy relationships” I also believe is the right attitude.
Great comment and I agree with you wholeheartedly! Thanks for writing and contributing to the dialogue.
Thanks for the comments. Great thoughts, Cliff.