I want to offer some clarification about my previous post. My intent was not to criticize my friends for being upset about what was said in the sermon. There was nothing inherently wrong with feeling uncomfortable about a choice of words used in the pulpit.
None of us comes to the church as a blank slate, even those of us who grew up in the church. We have political and social opinions that are formed in us through education, society and our own reasoning. So in the church and in the pulpit we are going to encounter thoughts and ideas with which we do not agree. It is what it is and this cannot be avoided unless we are interested in becoming Stepford Christians.
We all have opinions but not all of them are correct and we need to be willing to have our opinions challenged. This is why the Apostle Paul tells us that we are in need of transformation in our thinking (Rom. 12:1-2). We are in need of transformation in our thinking because none of us has a perfect understanding of the gospel, nor do we fully understand the implications of the gospel.
To better understand the gospel involves a process of seeing how deep the flaws in our thinking and behavior go. If I think that I have arrived at full understanding, it only proves that I have a long way to go.
A deepening understanding of the gospel is part of fulfilling the first of the two great commands (Matt. 22:37). As we grow in our love of God we increasingly see our need of grace and transformation. As a result, we should be increasingly thankful for God’s provision in Jesus Christ.
A deepening understanding of the implications of the gospel is part of fulfilling the second great command (Matt. 22:39). Once we understand our own need of grace, we are more likely to offer that grace to others. Once we understand how deeply we are loved by God, on the basis of that love we can extend love to others.
All this, admittedly, is easier said than done.
Because none of us are blank slates, we come to the church with differences in our thinking. The larger the church, the more differences there will be. As soon as you have more than one person in the group, there are going to be disagreements.
My point was not to chide those who disagreed with the pastor, but to encourage them to look on the discomfort in a new light.
The discomfort can be used by God to challenge us at our core.
When I am angry, it is almost always because I am inconvenienced or I feel disrespected. There have been a few times in my life when my anger had a righteous component to it, but even in those times it was tainted by selfishness.
So when someone says something that upsets me, I should take the opportunity to think through why it upsets me. What is it about the situation that is making me upset? Usually, too much of my angst does not come from a good place.
In the context of the church, and especially in the sermon, when I encounter something that makes me feel uncomfortable, a healthy reaction involves reflection on Scripture combined with introspection. If I combine these two, my response to the discomfort will be measured and seasoned with grace. I can then own where I need correction and then, and only then, lovingly offer correction to others.
The point I intended to make was that we need to find some level of comfort in being uncomfortable. The church should be the shining example of bringing unity out of diversity.
It is a shame that using the word “diversity” may bring us back to where we were at the beginning of my last post.