If you ever want to have an instant debate (or argument, as it typically goes), ask someone in a leadership capacity at your local community for faith what the primary values of that community of faith should be.
Of course, you’ll always get the usual answers: faith in Christ, evangelism (wow, there’s a burn word), etc. After the basics, though, it tends to get mucky (which leads me to another thought: why can we never stick to the basics? Oh, well. Such is the human condition, I suppose).
The problem is that, at that point, preferences begin to be emphasized in the name of this ugly little word Believers like to use, “conviction.” And, before you know it, you’re hearing about how being a true follower of Christ has to look like this person or group thinks it should look like. Some denominations are notorious for this, and others disguise more carefully, but I’ve found that it almost always tends to be there.
I wonder, at what point in our history as a church did we become misled with this concept that “different = sketchy”? As different groups unite as communities of the same world-wide church to follow Christ as passionately as they can (hopefully) and as best they know how, suddenly this concept of “unity” becomes a weapon for the purpose of squashing individuality. While unity is a Biblical concept (Jesus thought is was important), we should never misconstrue it to mean that we all must look, talk, and act in the same way. Certainly, there are givens that come with the following of Christ…certain moral imperatives, if you will. But these are not excuses for confusing “unity” with a desire for an homogeneous “fitting in” with the rest of the group.
Somewhere, we seem to have forgotten that “fitting in” can, in fact, be one of the most dangerous things that a Christ-follower could do. And yet, we want so badly to ostracize different ideas and personalities, all the while wondering why we have a reputation for being intolerant. After all, differences cause us to question, to re-examine. And that’s a lot of work to do when you have a good thing going.
So much for the values of comfort.
Hey there –
I thought you were on blogspot. Jeff and I are recent additions. Just wanted to let you know. 🙂
So how are the two of you?