Tuesday, August 28, 2007

THE QUESTION TO STOP ALL PROGRESS

Men debate. Verbal scuffles disturb the camp. Defensiveness builds. Dividing lines are drawn. Minds are set. Next, opportunities and possibilities find themselves with fewer champions. Where states argue for churches to be separate from politics, it is the church which suffers from politics' unwelcome intrusion.

Truth is claimed by all sides. Neither Wyatt Earp nor Matt Dillon faced so many duels on main street. The great temptation is to play it safe and withdraw from debate. But we can't. It isn't about who's right. The battle is over Who being right. Jesus is our right-eousness. We cannot afford to slip into ecumenical uselessness. It isn't that some are right and all others are wrong. The truth is we are all wrong and only Jesus is right. This truth seems to go unheralded.

To cover our irresponsible denial that we might have just a few things wrong, we mount an offensive by hiding in the three (or five) things we believe to be truth. From there we take our stand. Yet, within said ranks Truth will peck away at the consciences of faithful men and women. They will begin to question the present stance as they begin to wonder if the Word really does say things like it's wrong to have garage sales, it's wrong to sing during communion, etc.

The big question intended to shut down all questions is usually, Where will this lead? This usually extracts the teeth from the lion-hearted. But there is often an answer to that question which carries positive faithfulness. It just might lead to the truth. It will lead to freedom to do things in the kingdom which bossy-butts had deemed unbiblical because their parents didn't approve.

What is the this in the big question? Freedom. And, just where will this lead? It will lead to keeping our young people in the church. It will lead to intense love of God. It will lead to confidence to try again after horrendous failure. It will lead to expectation of the God of mercy to accept each of us. It will lead to meaningful respect for the simple Word rather than frustration and confusion over what the church says the Word says when it doesn't say it.

The big question is intended to buckle the knees of young faith. Howard Macey said, The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed. The sacrifice of courage upon the taming altar of strong-armed tradition has killed off many hearts who simply wanted to serve God; yet, they couldn't keep jumping through the strange church hoops.

The question to stop all questions need not be eliminated. It's not an unwise question. The problem with it is when it is used as a bully's whip to shut down the freedom of truth Jesus anticipated for us. Therefore, even the big question deserves the freedom to be asked. But it needs a passionate drive for hope, rather than the usual cringing of fear when presented.

5 comments:

Lita said...

This is bizarre. Your last two posts have gone right along with my cyber-study group's discussion in Galatians. Today's reading is chapter 4. Are you reading our emails?

Lee Keele said...

Hi Terry,
The battle against legalism will always be before us. Thank you for taking up your pneumatic sword and remembering that our battle is not against flesh and blood (though so many sometimes forget this), but against the dark forces in the heavenly realms, against arguments and every lofty thing that sets itself up against our God and Savior.

I often wonder what it is people are really afraid of? Being wrong? Being ordinary? Being as human as everyone else? If we could simply realize that there is no perfect human understanding, maybe we could afford one another a little grace occasionally.

God bless you, bro.

The Gearharts said...

Lee ... I think some people are afraid of the loss of control...their control, and to them it signifies chaos. The thing they miss is God is in control. I feel I was one of these people. I loved God with all of my heart....I just didn't trust that other people did. I was missing a part of the greatest commandment of loving my neighbor, and that mean I am optimistic of the amazing things that God will do through my brothers, not the fear of what they might mess up.

I still have a lot to learn

Greg said...

"This" may lead to hand-clapping and God knows that will send us straight to hell!

jim said...

I use a couple of your sentences: Jesus is our right-eousness. The truth is we are all wrong and only Jesus is right. This truth seems to go unheralded. Where will this lead? I believe it all leads to individual men in Churches that want to make a real difference in his own Church in the lives of other men so that a torch is passed down generation to generation. Terry, keep making a difference. Jim