I have a flaw. (Okay, to be honest, I have MANY flaws.) But one in particular is that I really like for everyone to be on the same page ... as me. To understand me and where I am coming from, and yes, to even agree with me on any and every stance. Unrealistic, prideful, naive, I know!! (Thank goodness God is not done with me yet!)
I don't like how disaccord affects relationships and how it makes people feel. I don't like the controversy of gun control and the anger it stirs up. I don't like the disagreements between political parties, and the nasty blows that arise out of it. I don't like hearing the disputes over abortion, and the shame that is often chained to it. And I don't like the contention between the gay community and church goers, and the division it creates. And yet, I have an opinion on these issues, a stance, if you will that would most likely cause dissension to some. I think we all do. Because we all are so different. We all come from distinct walks of life and have a diverse bundle of experiences under our belts. Despite 'the ugly' that our human nature can bring out from our differences, in reality our differences are one of the most beautify handiworks of God's creation. We are uniquely created, each having a variety of passions and ideas and philosophies.
Last night at small group we didn't tackle a pre-read chapter of the Bible or particular topic that was sent out the week before. We were all given a blank card and the freedom to write down ANY question. Some were light hearted, "If Jimmy cracked corn and nobody cared, then why was there a song written about it?" Some questions disclosed unknown information about the people we gather with each week, like middle names. (I'll let you guess who wears the name of "Pearly!") And one question even allowed us to hear about each other's 'transformational' story about meeting Christ.
As to be expected, we hit some challenging questions. You know those questions that we can agree on that God's Word is Truth, yet still struggle to find a common ground on what the Bible means and how it pertains to our lives here, now in 2013.
Paul's teaching on women in church?
The Letter of the Law vs. the Spirit of the Law?
If God's Word is infallible--true from cover to cover?
Can we know that we are walking in God's will? If so, how?
The Rapture and how is that going to work?
and who knows what else was in that pile of questions . . .
Once saved always saved?
We tend to stay away from those "controversial" issues. Right? I mean, we all have been told to steer clear of politics and religion at some point in our life. But even inside the four walls of our church building, we shy away from, maybe what some would call the gray areas of the Bible.
As I sat back an enjoyed a different pace from our routine small group last night, I couldn't help but think, that these gray areas that at times we avoid like the plague aren't really issues at all, but they are real live breathing children of God, trying to find their place in His story. Our group alone is made up of so many of these "gray issues," and I am thankful that we were able to scratch the surface last night--thankful that the conversation was started, even if it was challenging at times. I wish I could say we all left standing on common ground, or left holding the secret of where to find all the answers to these difficult questions. But we didn't.
I know for me, I walked out of those doors more confused than I did when I entered, more challenged to dive into God's word and read for myself what others sounded so confident on. I left understanding thirteen people I care about a little better. I left pondering the mystery of how Christ followers can read and interpret God breathed scriptures so differently and it not change that fact that His Word is true. I left knowing its OK to say "I don't know or I don't understand" and it not diminish the amount of faith one has. I left reminded that it's not about being on the right side of an issue, but rather getting to know the story behind the one who gets labeled an issue, and loving them as Christ would. But most importantly I walked out with the reminder that it's about Christ! It's about His work in our lives, individually and collectively. It's not about getting everyone on my page, but getting myself on God's page and finding His peace in the controversy that our feeble minds and the lack of understanding His ways will create. It's about learning from one another's differences and letting those differences challenge us and push us deeper along in our journey to seek after Him.