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SGtoDC: Words

February 22, 2010

Can’t we all just get along? Classic line isn’t it? Can’t we all just talk to each other in a civil and kind way. A way that is respectful of all parties involved. Sounds so nice doesn’t it? If we could all just gather together and sing a little Kumbaya, hold hands and everything will just be great.

The obvious Sicilian choice is that for progress to be made we have to be willing to sit down and discuss our differences. The idea seems to be that for progress to take place we have to be able to get along but is that true?

This past Friday I went had the opportunity to enjoy a simulcast conference from Willow Creek called The Green Room. One of the speakers was Nancy Ortberg and she discussed building a church culture that flourishes. She shared a story of an experience she had with a friend. The friend commented that someone they knew reminded them of Jesus. Ortberg said she was confused. She knew the man and didn’t think of Jesus at all. She asked her friend to clarify what was meant and the friend said he was so kind and gentle, you know just like Jesus. Ortberg suggested that she take out a sheet of paper and dig through the gospels and keep track of how many times Jesus is kind and nice and how many times he is blunt and direct and confrontational.

I thought it was wise counsel. You see last week I had several occasions where people expected me to be nice. To not call it how I saw it. They expected me to behave a certain way because I am the Pastor of a church. I also witnessed it in an internet discussion. A person that I actually am acquainted with jumped in and expressed their disappointment with the writer of a blog. Shouldn’t we talk nicer and kinder?

The assumption seems to be that as Christians that is what we should do. The choice seems to be already made. You must choose nice because you are a believer. Jesus was an old softy. He was a veritable pushover you know. Don’t be mean, we need to have some dialogue, we need to all get along.

Really?

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. Mark 16:14

At times we look at Jesus and his treatment of repentant sinners and we extrapolate that treatment to all comers. In fact for the religious of his day and even his own followers Jesus called it like he saw it. He let them have it when need be.

What am I really talking about? Heresy in the church. Before you get all you can’t do that on me, yes I come from a church background where every church that disagreed was in heresy. I come from a judgmental background where the littlest disagreement became grounds for dis-fellowship. I get that but that doesn’t mean heresy doesn’t exist and it certainly doesn’t mean that acting as if everything is okay will help anything.

For many years I went to Silver Maple Camp in Kingman, Kansas. On the last Saturday of the camp when everything is cleaned up the tradition is to go to Pizza Hut in Kingman for lunch before everyone heads there separate ways. Usually when we go there is another group of camp counselors from Camp Mennoscah.

Well my curiosity got the best of me and I began to research the camp. It has a Mennonite background. As I researched its affiliations I quickly saw what dialogue gets you. The idea that we need to just talk about, everyone stay civil and kind, can’t we all just get along.

In fact if you look at the liberal churches in America you will find a history of people agreeing to dialogue with those they disagree with until nothing is left. If you research the discussions it is always a call to be kind like Jesus. How does it end? Well for the local Episcopalians it ends when you have nothing. It ends when you change your name and begin meeting at the funeral home with a new Anglican identity. That is what dialogue got them. That is what kindness cured.

No, I understand that over the history of the church much has been called scriptural that isn’t. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about some very basic fundamental Christian principles that date from the beginning. We need to understand that some times there is no reason to talk. I think John understood this when he warned that they shouldn’t even be allowed into your home.

So what is the seventh way to make an un-attractional church?

Don’t pull any punches. The church can not afford to accommodate any longer. I know it seems mean and harsh but guess what, it isn’t. What is mean and harsh is not telling the truth. What is mean and harsh is not giving people the facts. What is mean and harsh is allowing people to be directionless when it comes to sin.

History shows that the God’s people often conform to the world. That truth loses to cultural pressure. I understand why it happens. All these people keep saying God is really like this. People keep saying that is mean and harsh and the way the Bible is translated is wrong.

In the past the church has made accommodations for the culture and guess what? It has not helped the church. Speak the truth in love? Sure thing but people who are hearing it won’t necessarily think it is loving. They may think you are downright mean and judgmental and not like Jesus at all.

Oh well.

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11

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