Speaker: Jerry Cisar
Commenting on the well-known verse in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” Francis Schaeffer says, “If an individual Christian does not show love toward other true Christians, the world has a right to judge that he or she is not a Christian.” Then, referencing John 17:21 where Jesus prays that we would “all be one… so that the world may believe that” the Father sent the Son, he says, “We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’s claims are true, that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.”
Randy Alcorn, in the November issue of Eternal Perspectives, writes,
“Churches are experiencing a pandemic of tribalism, blame, and unforgiveness—all fatal to the love and unity Jesus spoke of. Rampant either/or thinking leaves no room for subtlety and nuance. Acknowledging occasional truth in other viewpoints is seen as compromise rather than fairness and charitability.
“Sadly, evangelicals sometimes appear as little more than another special-interest group, sharing only a narrow ‘unity’ based on mutual outrage and disdain.”
We’ve all been affected by this. The particulars of our church nuance the discussion in directions that the particulars of another church would not, but that is true anywhere. Some blame each other (“If only they would _____.”), some blame the elders or me, and I blame someone else.
Regardless, one thing the last two years has taught me, and a costly lesson it is, we have not equipped this church well on how to handle disagreements, sinful or otherwise, how to approach each other, or how to communicate with the elders in a way that is other than frustrating. By “we,” I really mean me, since I do the bulk of the teaching here and have the most input into what that diet should look like.
For us to be a church that advances the Gospel of King Jesus, we must learn how to how to handle disagreements, sinful or otherwise, how to approach each other, and how to communicate with the elders, in a way that is other than frustrating.
There are plenty of places we could begin looking for a solution. We are going to begin with something that gets as close to the center of the culture that must permeate any church—a culture of gentleness or meekness.