Monday, June 27, 2005

Keeping a Sense of Perspective

For the past couple of days I have been blogging on the rather narrow topic of what I think is wrong with the church I have attended for a number of years. Then today, I stopped by the blog of Keith Smith, and felt a strange chill - as my silly little life was put into sudden perspective.

We need to understand our place in the world, and the potential that we have to affect real change. Our lives can make a difference, in very tangible ways. This is what should really haunt us (play the video!), and make us think twice about what we think is important. Really.

Lord help me from my narrow little self.

Doing The Right Thing, Even if it Hurts....A Lot

Gosh, how could this church have any problems?

As I noted recently, the greatest tragedy in the sad church split that I have been discussing recently has been the inability of those in leadership to really focus on the things that are important, namely the unity of the church around the Lordship of Christ. The ordination vows in the Presbyterian church include the following question of those being ordained to pastoral ministry :

"Do you promise to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church? "

As I have learned, "unity and purity" can mean different things to different people. By way of example, let me share with you a true story:

A pastor I have know of and have respected for many years was, a number of years ago, pastoring a solid and growing church when a faction that didn't like his leadership tried to force him out, by taking a vote of "no confidence". The pastor was stunned and heart broken. As he prayed about what was best for God's temple, he decided that it would really be best if he resigned. Though he felt sure that he could defeat his foes, and also had the support of the local Presbytery, he also believed that this would seriously damage the church over the long run. His career, his income, his reputation . . . none of these mattered as much as the church he loved so much. So he resigned.

Now this is upside-down logic if I have ever seen it. In corporate life, or secular culture, this pastor was what might technically be described as "whimping out". I mean really now, what a chicken, to cower in the face of detractors. Egads. Pathetic. I trust you sense my sarcasm.

What I have witnessed in the past several months at my church, has been the opposite of this story. "Spin" has been the order of the day. Excuses, and blaming, and conspiracy theories have taken the place of humility, repentance, dialog, and a pursuit of unity. It is all very, very sad. And I fear that to those looking in from the outside, this is just another example of the hollow claims that Christian folk can live in community that is any different from the rest of the world. I would hope going forward that we can all, including myself, do better than this. By the way, I have feet of clay that reach up to my neck.

For deeper thoughts than I am capable of on the topic of church/Christian conflict, go here and here.

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