Friday, August 6, 2010

For or against

I find it so easy to worry about someone else's orthodoxy. To see their theology as being wrong, their philosophy as wrong, their style as being wrong. If not wrong, then at least as less valuable or right than mine, and in need of being changed.

As I find my own understanding of things being adjusted, I want to see everyone else see things the same way I do. I have seen the light, so should you.

And if you don't (or won't), I shouldn't have anything to do with you. Since you aren't in complete agreement with me, I should consider you as an enemy, an outcast. How can my light have fellowship with your darkness?

I know this isn't the right way to look at such things, and I'm working on it. I really try to emphasize relationships over orthodoxy, friendships over 'truth'.

But somehow it still seems skewed and twisted. Shouldn't I be standing up for correct doctrine, making sure truth prevails? Isn't it my responsibility to keep the faith pure?

Well, no. At least not to that extent.

The church is already divided. Very divided. There are around 38,000 (or more) Christian denominations. Every one probably claiming to be more correct than everyone else. Every one probably claiming to have God and the Bible on their side.

But today I was reminded of Jesus' words in Luke 9: 49 and 50.
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid [him] not: for he that is not against us is for us. (KJV)

John spoke up, "Master, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't of our group." Jesus said, "Don't stop him. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally." (The Message)

The parallel passage in Mark 9:38-40 (The Message):
John spoke up, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group."
Jesus wasn't pleased. "Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down.
If he's not an enemy, he's an ally.

I've wondered about these verses before. Is Jesus really telling us that we can be friends, even if we disagree? Yes.
Is he suggesting that it is more important to dialog than to debate? You betcha.
Is he encouraging us to look for similarities instead of differences? Absolutely.
Is he telling us that being right isn't the most important thing? That's the way it looks to me.

It's long past time to drop the arrogance, to stop crying “Foul” every time someone has a different take on something than we do.
It's time to get down off our soapboxes and start shaking hands.
It's time to look for friends instead of enemies, those who are with us, not against us.

Sure, God probably has a list of absolutes, those things that determine whether someone is 'in' or 'out', whether they are with us or not.
But I'm sure that list isn't based on the criteria that many Christians would like to use. It's not as nit-picky as we tend to be.

Our responsibility is to love each other. We can leave the sorting out up to God.

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