Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Christian Carnage

Ever since the days when flying projectiles were added to the standard battle armament of clubs and swords, "friendly fire" has been the unfortunate result. It's kind of hard to know where an arrow will fall or what hot lead will ultimately pierce (just ask Stonewall Jackson about this). Modern warfare has done much to reduce the number of "friendly fire" victims but it remains a terrible reality.

As much as "friendly fire" is hated on the battlefield it seems to be a quite cherished part of Christianity. We often seem eager to turn our clubs (blogs), swords (sermons), artillery (websites), and nuclear weapons (blacklisting) from the enemy around us against our brother next to us (like the allegory? :) ). We spend so much time and energy beating the daylights out of our own team that we have little fight left for the enemy. We slash those more "liberal" than us and jab at those more conservative. Why?

I'm not always sure why. Pride maybe, thinking that I have arrived at all the right conclusions and everyone else must be beat into thinking my way. Insecurity with what we believe or the reasons that we believe the way we do? Tradition and the refusal to look at something a different way? The love of change and refusing to consider that perhaps a certain tradition may be correct? A variety of explanations may explain this propensity, none of which are flattering.

I have learned a lot from my pastor in this regard and greatly respect his wisdom and maturity. He is comfortable with what he believes, is humbly continuing to learn and grow, knows who the Lord has called him to be, and spends his time on doing what the Lord has called him to do rather than blowing up anyone who disagrees. No matter our position or theological persuasion, maybe we would all do better to follow this example. Maybe we need to accept the fact that God has included a variety of people in His army. The army doesn't attack the navy just because they aren't doing the same job. Perhaps we should let God be the general and just focus on the task that He has given us to do. Learn from the other units, keep your focus on your task, and leave the rest up to the General.

No, I haven't been smoking some pipe left over from the 60's. I don't expect the church to all come to agreement on Calvinism, Bible translations, worship styles, and eschatological views all in this decade. We need to be well studied, and constantly studying. However, it should be possible to also think the best of others and unselfishly give ourselves for our fellow army buddies (I Cor 13). At the very least we must learn to rejoice wherever and however the gospel is proclaimed (Phil 1:18). Mark 9:38-40 addresses such a situation. John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us."

Remember that the order "Ready, Aim, Fire" is important. "Ready, Fire, Aim" can cause a lot of unncessary carnage and pain.

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