Wow, can’t believe we’re a week away from October. I have a gazillion things going on in my life that I’d like to share or at least record so that I can look back on it someday. The weird thing is that I’m at a point right now in blogging that is unfamiliar to me; I have to think twice about what I’m going to write because there are more people reading me than ever before.
Apparently, some people I know got turned on to my blog and took offense to what I had to say. This is not all that new to me as I’m used to offending someone with the contrarian tone of my rants. I’ve actually been approached and accused of gossiping through my blog. A bunch of family matters have come up over the last month as well. And I’ve been specifically asked not to share / discuss those matters outside of the family.
So what do I share?
Well, Jenny and I have been hosting a Bible study at our house with friends each week for almost 2 months and it’s been very informative. I’ve gotten to know some of our friends a lot more in this short, 1 hour a week discussion than I have over the last 5+ years of ‘knowing’ them. Further, I’ve been having some great conversations with a number of other people about their faith, why they believe what they do, and how it plays out in their lives.
Hmm . . . can I share this? We’ll see.
Jenny and I have bounced around many different types of churches / denominations in our lifetime. Both before we were married and afterward, we’ve attended United Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, inter-faith, church of Christ, Brethren, and home churches. We’ve never called or considered ourselves to be anything but Christian, meaning we are worshipers / followers of Jesus Christ. Now, attending these different places of worship (and even placing membership) was never confusing to us. I never considered myself a Baptist or Methodist. But apparently, there are some deep-rooted, lines drawn in the sand, “we’re going to Heaven and you’re not”, friends in our midst.
What I’m learning is that there are many people that grew up in the same church and have been there their whole lives. That’s all they know. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I’m finding out that when you’re used to being in a completely homogenous pond your whole life, and someone like me comes along and asks simple questions like “why do you think that is true?”, it can ruffle feathers and even make people angry.
Through it all, though, I’ve tried to keep a level head and see things from the other person’s perspective. I don’t always succeed and sometimes, I catch myself thinking “that’s so shallow. How on earth can you see the world that way? Have you actually thought about what you’re saying or are you just regurgitating the same canned response you’ve been programmed to recite?”
As frustrating as it is at times, I am encouraged because there are other times when the light seems to come on, where people start to step back and think, and in the end, true spiritual fellowship has begun. And with that, deeper friendships are forged. They take time to develop. It’s a messy, arduous process. But if we, as members of the body of Christ, are supposed to be united in purpose, spirit and faith – then we must take the time to get to know each other.
Guys – have you ever gone to a party with your wife and you didn’t know anyone there? If you’re like me, you’d rather have your eyes burned out with hot tongs. Maybe your wife says something like “you should go say ‘hi’ to Bill. He likes Star Wars too.” And you feel like a 6 year old being dropped off at day care.
The secular world has trained us to be guarded. We’ve been filled up with privacy rights and horror stories of pedophile ax murders living in our neighborhoods, lawsuits wiping out family-owned businesses after generations of service, and hiding our dirty laundry by pointing out everyone else’s faults. We’re taught to whisper how we really feel about so-and-so but never to say anything to their face.
Christian fellowship should not be like orphans shoved in a room together. And it’s not something you can just declare like “okay, from here on out, we’re having fellowship.” We need to be gracious, open, and humble. Personally, I’d like nothing more than to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and listen to you talk about what’s going on in your life, how God’s working on your heart, the challenges and struggles your flesh are pulling against your will, and how you can’t reconcile a particular chapter or verse.
I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this before, but Jenny and I have a running joke about Unity. A number of years ago, we were debating something and just could not agree. Finally, my wife turned to me and said “you know, we should be united as husband and wife.” I said, “I agree.” Jenny replied “so, come my way.”
As ridiculous as that sounds, do we Christians have the same attitude when it comes to unity in the body of Christ? I’m willing to be united with you as long as you see things my way? That’s not unity. That’s dividing the church.