For several reasons...
We can all learn something from this...John W. Fountain wrote a column in today's Washington Post titled "No Place for Me - I Still Love God, But I've Lost Faith in the Black Church".
He touches on themes of an unfocused church, ego driven pastors, and the disconnect resulting from token spirituality presented within fundraisers and quasi-fashion shows.
The article is a must-read for all Christians who love and grew up within their respective churches yet feel the pain of disillusionment from discovering its deficiencies. I for one grew up within the Southern Baptist Convention and over-time became pained at the hurtful and needless politics of power exhibited at the expense of the true calling of Jesus. Witnessing too much anger and bitterness challenged me to examine what I believed and how to proceed. Part of that process is typing out this blog.
We all need to re-examine our own hearts and pray for the collective Church. We must pray that politics of power, of hate, of division, of exclusion, of diversion, and of money must not be placed as idols in front of Jesus' teachings. We must not argue about the difference between the word "inerrant" and "true" and condemn each other for not accepting each other's exact theology. We must not concern ourselves of each other's sins and focus on each other's failings.
We are called to purer and higher mission. That mission's over-riding theme is love. To be true Christians, we must act within the bounds of love, which cannot exist within the love of money or power. The desire for perfection and purification is a worthy goal; however, none of us is without blame and we must interact and fellowship with each other in love, not condemnation.
As I look out the window of the store at the beautiful sunset, reflecting on several online and personal conversations over the past few days, I wonder if those, I myself used to be one, who let emotion override reason while debating these differences understand the damage inflicted on Christianity overall. More and more I understand why the CBF pulled out - you can't find common ground with folks who won't listen - who are focused on winning, ethics and Christian love be damned. I remember a youth minister I used to have - I couldn't discuss issues with him because he was too busy preaching to me. I cringe when that happens - I absolutely abhor being told what to believe or "this is how it is, accept it". I want to learn, I'm willing to listen, I'm not too proud to modify my opinion in the face of compelling evidence, but I have my own opinions and beliefs that I bring into the debate which I consider valid. Until my debate partner recognizes that my opinions may actually have some validity and is willing to listen, there is no common ground.
When this happens - when we conduct intra-church squabbles in the public square, we're not the most convincing witness to non-Christians... they can get that same kind of fighting by watching Jerry Springer.
(Note, this is not directed toward any one person, but a general type of several personalities I've interacted with the past few days, some my family has interacted with, and some from my 'growing up' years.)