Wednesday

We've got to come back together

Rachel Held Evans has a good post over on her blog:

Liberal Christianity, Conservative Christianity and the Caught-in- Between

It's related to my posts on community, which you can read here, here and here.

Evans writes quite a bit on the divide within the church. If you don't believe there is one, take a look at her comment section at the bottom of this post. There are a lot of people who read and agree with her. But then again there are some who don't. She says:


"... but I was disheartened to see my Facebook and Twitter feeds light up with gleeful jeers from conservative evangelicals essentially saying, 'let the liberals die!' followed by defensive responses from more progressive Mainliners reminding them, 'we may be dying but we’re taking you with us!'"

Can you believe that Christians are talking like that? It seems that the relative anonymity on the Internet has given people license to show their true colors - to let the carnal nature take over and use it to the full extent of its nastiness.

The problem isn't just among Christians. If you go over to Fox News you'll find that the ability to comment has been removed from many stories. Before this, however, there were all sorts of nasty remarks, especially if someone dared disagree with the majority. However,  you can still find plenty of viciousness over on their opinion pages and blogs.

Whenever I see this, I am disturbed by the fact that Christians are just the same as prebelievers in these unsavory commentaries. It really gets bad when Christians believe that the government is in some way infringing upon their rights, such as the recent case of a Phoenix man who told the city that he was going to build a gameroom in his garage. Well, the 'gameroom' somehow turned into a 2,000-square-foot building that housed a church. The city of Phoenix told the man that his congregation would have to quit meeting there because of zoning regulations. Then, evangelist Todd Starnes commented on his FoxNews blog, noting that the city of Phoenix was jailing the man for holding 'Bible studies' in his house. Most of the people were going nuts, saying that Phoenix was infringing on this man's rights because he was a Christian.

Never mind the fact that the man lied about his intentions.

The comments by these Christians would lead you to believe that the First Amendment doesn't exist, and that government at all levels is out to 'get' Christians - while allowing Muslims all manner of freedom. When the Founders wrote the Constitution, there weren't many Muslims living in America, and many other religions we now see in our country didn't even exist. Yet the Founders knew that Christians are quite capable of persecuting each other; some of the most egregious examples of religious persecution in our history are Christians persecuting other Christians. I believe the Founders were wise to include freedom of religion, and as broadly as they did. If they hadn't, there would probably be a lot more white-cloaked people running around like the Klan, burning at the stake anyone who didn't attend the approved church that past weekend.

When is it going to end? Like Evans, I feel like I'm somewhere caught in the middle. I'm not liberal and I'm not ultra-conservative. I believe in social justice; I believe that everyone should be welcome in church; I believe that we must address sin; I also want good in-depth Bible studies and I want to be able to debate the issues without feeling like I'm going to be shunned afterward.  I want a sense of community like Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes in "Life Together." When is the body of Christ going to decide that belief in Jesus is the unifying factor and the rest is topics for conversation and godly debate?

When will we get back to allowing the Holy Spirit to work on people rather than shunning them before the Spirit has had a chance to work? What if the Spirit never brings them around to our point of view? Are we going to get rid of everyone who doesn't agree with our opinions? Are we really that important?

Christians in their entirety form what is called "the body of Christ." The Church Universal. One part cannot say to the other "we don't need you." If one part of the body goes down, the other parts are going with it, like the Twitter and Facebook responses on Evans' pages. It isn't a pretty picture. When I think of this, I bring Ephesians 6 to mind and picture the body of Christ as a soldier in a army of those times. With all those edged weapons being brutally wielded, once a soldier was wounded, once he suffered the loss of part of his body, he was done.

I don't want this to happen to the body of Christ. Do you? We've got to do something to come back together. What will you do? What will I do?