Wednesday, March 16, 2011

polarization.

This morning I wrote for a long time in my journal about internal disagreements between Christians.

I am wearied by Facebook and Twitter statuses that attack other Christians, even if we fundamentally disagree with a teaching or opinion offered by that person.

I am discouraged by the divisions within the church and the tendency we have to dehumanize those who think differently than us.

I am saddened by an approach to the faith that sees theology as competing "teams," like in sports, because it leads us to feel justified in heckling and disrespecting our "opponents."

I am brokenhearted over the reality that those who claim to follow Jesus don't even know how to love their brothers and sister in Christ, let alone their enemies.

I am disappointed by this legalistic and controlling approach to the faith, which places the emphasis so squarely on following the rules and taking the "right" position on an issue, that we forget about the important things: love, mercy, justice. 

I would like to see Christians offering love instead of hate, and so did Paul:

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other.  Let there be no divisions in the church.  Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.  For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters.  Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions?  1 Corinthians 1:10-13

You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?  When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?  After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.   1 Corinthians 3:3-5

In light of those recent thoughts,  I especially appreciated Eugene Peterson's perspective, which offers a beacon of hope and love in the midst of a storm of controversy and criticism over Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins.  (Ironically, most of the debate took place before the book even came out, based on speculation over a promotional video Rob released on his site).

The article about Eugene's response to the media heyday over the book is a short but refreshing read.  Check it out here if you are interested.  I would highly recommend it.  I would also suggest that his response is applicable not just to Rob Bell and his new book, but also to those who have a problem with Mark Driscoll, Donald Miller, John Piper, and/or many other prominent Christian leaders in today's culture.

And I pray we learn to balance love with truth, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah: Phenomenal post. My gosh, this is exactly what people needed to hear. And the Scriptural verse was dead on.

    Also, I LOVED what Eugene Peterson had to say. That whole "litmus test" stuff. Glorious. He is truly a man who managed to take a step back and not allow his emotions to get the best of him.

    We should be praying for Rob. As well as Piper and the rest of the gang.

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