Thursday, February 19, 2009

Criticism Out of Ignorance

I love Southern Baptists (we are called to love our enemies). Just kidding. I was not always raised one, but I am Southern Baptist by choice, and have no intention of changing. I could go on to list the things that make me glad to be that way, but just suffice it to say that I am proud to be a Southern Baptist...most days.

However, there are some days that I get frustrated with the culture that comes along with the denominational label. Stereotypes unfortunately usually carry some measure of truth. And yesterday was one of those days. I have a dear brother in Christ who belongs to another denomination. He is someone that I have the utmost love and respect for. And because of a providential course of meetings, there was another minister that I wanted him to meet. This minister was having lunch with all of my Southern Baptists pastor buddies, but I could not make it. So I called ahead and let people know that my friend was coming, and to introduce him to everyone, make him feel welcome, etc. By and large that was done. But my friend also had to put up with constant jabs about his denomination, in preacherly love of course. And the differences that separate Southern Baptists and this other denomination are minor. However, many of the things that they joked and jabbed about are very scriptural. And the flippant manner in which they jest about them betrays their lack of knowledge or concern about them. And the sad thing is that I share more in common with this brother than with most of them...

I mention this because I am afraid that we (including myself) tend to perch up on our lofty fortresses of tradition lobbing shells (in love) at people that differ with us, that are not the enemy. And many times if we simply took time to understand and biblically evaluate the differences, we would realize that we are not all that different. This is not to say that we should be soft on truth, or that we should eliminate denominations, or that doctrinal moorings should be kept in secret, but that we be willing to listen and understand and be knowledgable with other people's views. Truth divides, and that is good! But ignorance and light-hearted joking about serious matters is not becoming of us as believers. At least, we should strive a little harder to be more loving toward those individuals who are not really the enemy. And I was sad to hear my friend's evaluation of this meeting that with the exception of the minister that I wanted him to meet, he thought fellowshipping with my pastor buddies was an investment that he wouldn't voluntarily or regularly make.

And some wonder why people are leaving our churches like rats off sinking ships. Maybe they have had enough. Or maybe they want to experience Christ with others with different views without being chided and labeled. My heart is that as believers we would do nothing that would be a hindrance to the glory of God in the gospel of Christ shining brightly through our lives. We were created to make much of Him. So, let us follow Christ so closely that our lives are shaped by His. Let us love the brethren. Let us understand the brethren, so that the world will know that we are His disciples. Thanks for reading! Love to have your thoughts!

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