I was recently in a denominational meeting where a major decision was to be made involving leadership and direction. The process leading to this conference had lasted for two years and at times been controversial and conflicted. During the meeting difficult, pointed questions were asked. The committee making the recommendation was challenged at various points as to process and outcome. At the end of the day a vote was taken and a decision was made.
Here’s the point I want to share with you. During this five hour meeting, there were no raised voices, no accusatory statements, no name calling, or derogatory remarks. In short, it was a difficult decision reached through prayer, compassion, and genuine love for one another. As I traveled home I reflected on the dynamics of that meeting and celebrated the fact that all though the decision ultimately reached was not unanimous; it was accepted and affirmed by all present.
I have a colleague who is a pastor in a conflicted and difficult parish. She has made every effort to resolve the issues and attempt to be a loving shepherd amid overt hostility. Ultimately, spiritually, emotionally, and physically exhausted she chose to resign. Quietly stating that she will probably never pastor again.
My heart breaks for communities of faith that sacrifice the love of Christ on the altar of selfishness and parochialism. I shed genuine tears for pastors who are caught up in loveless churches, who cannot see beyond themselves to recognize the kingdom of God in their midst.
Seminary enrollments are down, more churches close each year than open. Across many denominations there is a shortage of pastors. But still we choose to fight, hanging on to what we determine to be our “rights” rather than the kingdom principles of love, compassion, and grace. I wonder if God weeps over our brokenness, stubbornness, and just plain sinfulness. We should weep over the destruction we wreak on the kingdom of God.
As the first example indicates we can love, respect, and treat each other with dignity even when we disagree. We can reason it out in grace, not anger.
“Come, let us reason together” that’s what God says.