This year I have dealt with a lot of anger. Not the “anger issues” kind of anger, like yelling at people or getting thrown off of airplanes for misbehavior or throwing up bad fingers on the freeway or anything, but anger nonetheless.
Over the last several years I have started asking questions about Christianity that I never really asked growing up. Why don’t very many women preach? Why are there so many kinds of churches? Why do I believe X about the character of Jesus but not Y? And for the first time as a Believer I started doing some digging. I started doing my own research on people’s theological views and studying the Word as a whole to figure out what I believed based on what I read about Jesus and not what everyone around me was telling me about him.
So I came to some conclusions about the heart of God. And frankly, most of my conclusions were on specific topics: money, women, the LGBTQ community, etc., etc. So when I recently had a friend that attacked my stance on women’s roles in the church, I was livid. I don’t often get angry, but friends, I was angry to a depth I didn’t even know existed in me. I felt violated and attacked in both my character and my faith.
And I have kind of been angry ever since. I have felt the need to prove my point—to myself and everyone else. I have felt the need to show “right” vs. “wrong" and to bring the Church up in arms with my points of view.
This week though, I have begun to realize just how much the Enemy loves the fact that we as a Church divide. And finally, instead of anger, I have come to feel a deep sense of devastation and loss. We, as the Body of Christ, divide as soon as we focus on conclusions and specific topics instead of on Christ Himself. We break the unity of the Body when we, like the rest of the world, fight each other on politics. We divide instantly when we become a Church that is “for or against women in leadership” or “for or against holy sacraments” or “for or against loud worship music" or even "for or against the rights of the LGBTQ community." We divide when we become a Church that is for anything other than the person of Jesus Christ.
When we use topics or issues or theological differences as our reference points, we become more fragmented because we stop trying to align ourselves and instead split ourselves over and over again about things we decide to hold opinions on. Friends, it is Jesus, and only Jesus, who can be used as a central compass and reference point. We are not called to the same ethics, we are called to the same reference point.
Does this mean we give up on speaking the truth? No way. It means that we hold dialogue about the truth and love of Christ. It means that we start difficult conversations about the truth of Christ that stems from a place of love for our neighbors. It means, friends, that we stop having anger issues and start becoming a centerpiece of hope for a world that really needs one.
Please note: I have very intentionally left my theological "conclusions" out of this post.