Issues, issues, issues

I had written this back in July but never posted it. I guess I thought it needed something, I don’t know what. Seems finished as I look at it here in November, so here it is. 🙂
Dan Edelen has a great post today back in July about divisions and finger pointers, appropriately entitled Throwing Stones in Glass Houses of Worship.
Prompted by a debate over the modern existence of the charismata (Dan’s a charismatic) on another blog, he rightfully points out that there are nut-jobs in every stripe of Christianity, including our own. We love to tear down those who are in another tribe by singling out the public crazies and then characterising the entire groups as just like them. It’s far too easy to do, and I find myself doing it too. You find out someone’s denomination and you immediately assume a lot about them, based on the infamous in their group. It’s sad and we need to battle this every day.
I once had a guy show up here from a comment I left on another blog. He came by, not because he thought I had said something interesting, but because he had heard I was from the ICOC. I mentioned that there were reforms happening and his comment, after many disparaging comments on my church (calling it a cult) and indirectly on me, was something along the lines of “Time will tell just what kind of reformer you are.” Part of me was offended, but mostly I didn’t care. I was seeking the truth and continue to do so, and will hopefully continue to grow and change. Hang around and see what I am, I thought. Unfortunately, he left no email address and he hasn’t bothered to come back. He had made his statement on my faith, and that was it.
Why do we do that? Certainly, there are plenty of crazies in the ICOC saying and doing crazy things. There are wacky, embarrassing mainliners too, and Baptists, Methodists, Catholics and on and on. They seem to get all the attention. Why? Because we like to look at them, point our fingers and say “Look at that nut job!”. If they’re nuttier than we are, then we can breathe a sigh of relief and take the focus off of ourselves.
The other night we had a little knock down drag out thing with the girls before bed. Jessica was wronged by her sister, reacted badly and then I reacted badly to her. She lamented that she had told them repeatedly that she didn’t want them in her room when she wasn’t around. Why do they keep doing it when she asked them not too? She was indignant.
I reminded her that she’s been doing that to me for 12 years. Why doesn’t she stop? I think it hit home. 😀
Near the end of our talk, I had to apologize for yelling at her. I told her that it’s just part of being a Schaefer man. I’m not sure what it is, but we slide right into shouting with the quickness. My Dad does it and his dad did it too. We hate it and we battle it, but it rears its ugly head all too often.
My point was that we all have issues, it’s part of being human. To keep harping on others’ issues is to pretend that we don’t have our own and only distances us from those who see their own issues all to clearly and are looking for help in dealing with them. When people do wacky things to us or act in wacky ways as Christians, we need to fight the natural reaction to judge and instead act in grace. Sure, we can teach, admonish and even rebuke where appropriate, but all in the spirit of grace.
What would Christianity look like if we all focused on these 2 things?

  1. Doing our absolute best to act according to God’s will (and always learning better what that means).
  2. Overlooking it as much as possible when others fail at 1.

3 thoughts on “Issues, issues, issues

  1. I have the same problem, I bring my prejudice of other denominations without looking deeply at the individual. To try to correct that I’ve been actively reading, meeting and talking to people of difffernt denominational/non-denominational backgrounds. I think it has helped me, but I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, Im still just trying.

  2. Hey Doug, first off about the yelling. I know all too well what that’s like, but I applaud you apologizing to your daughter. I think my apologies to my son over my angry outbursts and (as he’s gotten older) my asking him for forgiveness have done the greatest good in our relationship. Keep up the good work dad!
    Secondly, even though you’re in the ICOC and therefore a known heretic – I still love you brother.
    Your friend Rong
    The Righteous ARP Zealot 🙂

  3. “I’M NOT YELLING AT YOU! I JUST HAVE A LOUD KEYBOARD!” – comment I saw on a long-gone blog.
    Sometimes I wish I could tell my kids I wasn’t really yelling at them; that I just have a loud keyboard, or my caps key is stuck in the “on” position. But I can’t. So I just go back and apologize.
    You know what? One really great thing about the fellowship of Christ is that there are people I feel close to in “tribes” other than mine – some that I haven’t even met face-to-face, like you, Doug! – sometimes closer than I feel to folks in my own “tribe.”
    And to the One who was a kingly priest from the tribe of Judah, none of it makes any difference.

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