This is a follow up to my last post.
Recently, I contacted a local pastor to discuss evangelicalism and challenges in the Salt Lake Valley area. The time we spent together over a meal went rather well. We lost track of time talking about numerous topics, despite our dramatically different backgrounds. Later, I sent a follow up email asking him if we could get together again, as brothers, and discuss the Word of God further and become friends.
The letter, politely worded, indicated that while he did not question my heart (for God?), he could not consider me a brother. The tone of my missive gave the impression that I took the topic of attendance in a traditional, local church somewhat flippantly. In his eyes, to consider someone a brother is a ‘serious matter,’ and if I refuse to listen to a traditional church, then he must pray for me, call me to repentance, and refrain from calling me a brother until I have a change of heart. In his eyes, this course is a most loving one in order to pull me back into the fold of the flock.
I had a number of issues, both theologically and scripturally, with his approach to the issue of attendance in a traditional church. However, my heart dropped at the fact he felt driven to point out that due to this divide in understanding a scriptural matter, he cannot call me a brother in Christ. I felt like a plane shot by the enemy while taking off.
The pain felt familiar. A number of Christian believers, pastors included, rejected me in the past when I brought concerns about orthodoxy, church services/sermons, etc., to their attention, despite my scriptural support. In all liklihood, reopening these old wounds with an early rejection in the form of an email caused a stronger than normal reaction.
I have grown bitter over such rejections in the past, finding books and resources showing, with scripture, how the traditional and/or institutional church falls well short of the mark supposedly laid out in the Bible. I then shared these findings with others, often forcing new wine into old wineskins (in other words, doing more harm than good). I have since learned, over the years and thoughrogh study of scripture, that God does not call me or others to stand against the macanizations of man or other bodies of believers. Instead, He calls us to share the gospel message with the lost, and to share our Christian, spirit led love with our fellow man.
I realized that if I could experience painful rejection at the hands of Christian, orthodox church (numerous times, at that), chances are, many others are currently going through similar situations. As my wife and I have studied the scriptures, together, over the last 15 years, and have learned much from a variety of Biblical teachers (both present and past). We have discovered answers for the very tough questions that undoubtedly arise when you seek Him through these circumstances.
That leads me to the main point of this post. After prayer and discussion with several others, I have decided to take a slightly new direction with my creative endeavours. I will not only work to share the message of the gospel through story, blogging and art, but also work to reach those children of faith, searching for answers, who feel lost, alienated and alone. That will include changes in the direction of my weekly blog entries, and, perhaps some new endeavours (a YouTube video series and/or podcast, for example). By the wisdom and power of God’s Spirit, I do hope (and believe) that these writings will benefit the entire body of Christ, including those who actively attend traditional church.
I do not claim that we (my wife and I) have the perfect answers, or even super awesome ones. If someone does not agree with something we share, I wecome them to contact me. “Come now and let us reason together.” And, when someone else has different ideas, we will listen, search and pray. For the tougher ones, we even seek the council of the body… other Christian siblings we know, support and love. And, in the end, if we do not agree with those of different theologies, we still love those who question. And if they share our holy desire to repent of sin, follow Jesus Christ and trust on his redemptive work on the cross for forgiveness, we embrace them as our brothers and sisters.
I hope you will join me in an effort to reach the lost, the scattered, the desititue and the unworthy. By God’s Grace, we will fulfill the great commission while showing the world that we are His disciples.
John 13.34″A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35″By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
By His Grace
Phil aka JCServant