Friday, May 27, 2005

Loving people is hard; but loving Christians is harder.

It’s scary the way we Christians today view church and pastors similarly to the way we view Hollywood and celebrities. It is no longer God’s church, it’s man’s church. In Orange County, you’ll find Rick Warren’s church; in Minnesota, take your pick: Greg Boyd’s church if you like women in ministry, John Piper’s church if you don’t; in Chicago, there is Bill Hybel’s church—where most mid-west pastors sadly envy to one day be working at; in Virigina, there’s Jerry Falwell’s “homosexuals are taking over the world” church; and in L.A., there’s Erwin McManus’ church vs. John McArthur’s church—with its own big, phat McArthur Bible. And of course there are many, many others. Every book-writing evangelical Protestant pastor of a mainline church seems to be Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts for the shameful subculture of Christianity. But this can’t be right, can it? This can’t be what God had in mind.

I’ve been thinking so much lately about church unity, I feel my frustrations are running out of places to hide. Why do we keep splitting and starting new churches based on denominational differences? Why do we end the argument and discussion and conversation on such controversial matters as if to say, “well, we’re not going to agree so we might as well part, and go our own separate ways.”

No! Why not stay until we agree, or continue the conversation within the fellowship of the Body until we become continually edified through our attempt to be unified? Do we have so little faith in God’s power to seriously work through a church united, as opposed to a church divided?

Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself will not stand, but fall. My question is simply this: how many churches in America today—separated from one another so much that unity even under the roof of one church is not even possible—are slowly falling? Or more appropriately, how many of them have already fallen? It seems somewhat silly when you think about it to just up and leave whenever disagreements come up in churches. After all, we’re human and fallible and differences come with the territory of being human. Likewise, it seems silly to leave the conversation or debate from within a Church community and say, “let’s just agree to disagree.” Why? Who told us this is a valid response? Who sold us such an easy-way-out? Because it certainly wasn’t Jesus!

Maybe I’m being too much of an idealist, but need I remind you that there are roughly 74,000 different Christian denominations present in the world today? Could this fact signify that maybe be this “let’s just agree to disagree” mentality is flawed? That maybe, to some degree, the really important issues worth arguing for should be wrestled with and through until unity becomes the selfless communal goal all members of the body of Christ are aiming for?


Chalupa said...

this topic seems to come up in a conversation with somebody and me like once a month or so. it does seem rediculous. there are many times when i try not to align myself with other christians - usually because i don't want people to think i'm like them. we should be banning together, not running away from each other. unfortunately some of the people that know the least speak the loudest. one of my more favorite quotes (which i just read in A Wrinkle in Time) is The more a man knows, the less he talks. It has always seemed to me that you can learn so much more from just listening to people then blabbing away forever on end.

nateshorb said...

christians are bad at fighting. we can't handle conflict very well. we've come up with this notion that we're not allowed to disagree or conflict or fight or have differing opinions, and when we do, the only way to handle it is drop it and separate. this, obviously, stifles dialogue, which stifles learning, which stifles growth.

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