Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How Should I Unite With Christians I Disagree With?

"The Gospel alone is sufficient to rule the lives of Christians everywhere. . . any additional rules made to govern men’s conduct added nothing to the perfection already found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
John Wycliffe

We Christians find lots of things to argue about. Should you use wine or grape juice for communion? Is it appropriate to have drums in church? Should a woman of God show any skin? Is it offensive to God to wear jeans to worship?

Or how about we put the screws on a little bit? Does a serious Christian use birth control or support feminists? Does your political affiliation matter? What about your views on abortion and gay rights?

Anne Rice, a novelist known for her vampire bestsellers WAY before the Twilight craze, shocked the nation a few years ago when she came out saying she was returning to her Catholic faith. She started writing books about God and publicly aligned herself with Christianity.

But recently she wrote a scathing comment on Facebook, distancing herself from Christians because of the condemnation she sees for differing views. In her words:

"For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

And a little later she added,

"As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

There's a very interesting clip on Ms. Rice's website from a CNN interview with Joy Behar. I certainly don't agree with everything she says here, but it makes me wonder how I should relate with people who don't believe as I do. There's something very sad about Ms. Rice feeling like she cannot identify herself with other Christians. What happened to being known as Christians by our love? How do we maintain unity in the Body if we don't agree on big issues? If the gospel is sufficient (and it absolutely is), how do I navigate the choppy waters of actual living with others?

Our pastor preached on non-negotiables this summer, those things we absolute should not compromise on. He's identified two:

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent by the Father to be the once and for all atoning sacrifice for our sins, enabling us to be righteous before God and live for eternity with Him in heaven.

The Bible is the Holy Word of God, perfect and without error.

But when the rubber meets the road, when I find myself in opposition with another Christian, how should I conduct myself? I must go to God's Word.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3:12-14

Or in the words of Jesus Himself:

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Matthew 22:37-39

The answer is love, loving God, loving others. May God give us wisdom to know the best way to love.

See how others interpret this quote by visiting Esthermay at The Heart of a Pastor's Wife.

1 comment:

Karen said...

We definitely need to read God's word and stick with it. Perhaps if we lived our lives as we should it would be less confusing to those around us. Thanks for sharing today, your story was interesting to read.