I may not make it out alive after this, but I hope everyone can read this and gain some insight from it. Ultimately, I am so tired of division in the Church, from both sides, and I’m ready to do something about it.
I recently attended one of my favorite places in the world, Malibu, California, for the 69th annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures. This was my third year to attend, and on top of it being the most beautiful location in the US for a Bible lectureship, it is one of the more diverse and challenging of all the yearly events.
The problem is this – when I mention I am going to the Bible lectures at Pepperdine, many, and I mean many fellow Christians immediately place judgement on me. This has happened for the past few years, and again happened this year. I get comments such as “I can’t believe you’re going to such a liberal place” or “I thought you were more solid in your faith” or I even got a “How can a member of the Lord’s church even consider going to Pepperdine for such an event?”
I’ll be honest, there are some things that take place at the Pepperdine Bible lectures I wish did not happen. There are some things I wish were not said. I’m not going to mention them here, because then certain individuals could use that as ammo against said lectureship without ever having attended, and they could twist my words to say something I never said.
The thing is this – the very people who are appalled I am going to such an event are getting lambasted from the other side. They’re getting mocked as traditionalists who are clinging to an ancient style of evangelism and outreach, and for viewing the Bible as legalists instead of recipients of grace. Traditions, heritages, our entire past is getting pushed aside for a new style of preaching and teaching, and a new style of worship.
The problem is that both sides look at each other and think they are doing it wrong. The right looks at the left and will find a scripture to prove just about everything being done in the “progressive” world is wrong. The left looks at the right and makes a mockery of an old fashioned style that “just doesn’t work” anymore.
I work for a congregation that probably has more diversity than I’ve ever seen as far as the spectrum of right vs. left, traditionalist vs progressive, conservative vs. liberal, etc. And you know what? Since I’ve been here, we just get along fine.
We have an older generation raised by the Gospel Advocate and straight forward preaching. We have a younger generation wanting technology and narrative preaching. We sing new and modern hymns, and we sing the classics. On Sunday morning, we have a scripture reading from an older cherished version and a newer more contemporary version. We clap after a baptism, but we don’t clap during our singing (not that there’s really anything wrong with it, its really a respect issue more than anything).
We had a whole lesson on homosexuality one Wednesday night with a combined adult class. We had a whole quarter where the class was “Youtube and Your Faith” and had a whole quarter where the class was singing songs of praise. We still had a traditional straight up Bible study as well.
We don’t sing a song during Communion, but we sing one right before, and almost immediately after the last person takes the cup, because its just not worth making someone upset. But we also want to appeal to the senses of those who do use emotions and feelings in their worship through a desire to sing a song at that time.
We use pictures of the cross, images on the power point, and words on the screen of the scriptures being read.
And after all that, guess what? At the end of a service, it takes us over an hour to get people out the door because we love being together.
We love being together because what binds us together is not whether we clap or not. Its not what songs we sing. Its not what version we read. Its not if we sing during communion or not. We are bound together because Christ died for us.
Why oh why must we as Christians continue to be divisive in a culture that is already looking down on Christianity. We are being attacked from every spectrum, why must we attack each other? The reason we come together is because of Christ. Christ begged God for us to be able to be unified. He knew 2000 years ago that we would nitpick and fight. Over what?
A new or old song?
The list goes on and on.
To my brothers who are to “more to the left”, please stop bashing our heritage, and please stop bashing our “conservative” family. They aren’t doing anything wrong, unless they are judging you, and in that case, be the bigger person and just leave it alone. Our heritage is a treasure. Be proud of who are and what we’re doing for Christ.
To my brothers who are “more to the right”, please stop assuming what others are doing just based upon the name of the congregation, or university, or whatever else you use , are wrong. You sound ridiculous when you say “I heard from my sister who has a friend who used to go there 10 years ago that they are letting women play instruments in the band during communion.” If you have a genuine concern for their souls, its best not to throw it out on Facebook, but contact one of their elders and ask them. Or maybe even better, pray about it and seek God’s counsel.
Let’s stop creating more and more and division, and seek a way to be more and more unified. I could say more, but I think everyone knows where I’m coming from. I’m sure there are some from both sides who will find what I’ve just said to have fault in it, but that’s okay. I still love you! Let us seek unity. Its what Jesus wanted.