I have a hunch. OK, maybe its more than a hunch – a conviction. This conviction is so profound it challenges me on every level of my spiritual comfort. And its this. If God wanted to he could have made every truth of scripture super duper clear. He could have made them as dummy proof as the safety instructions on an airline card. And while there are things in scripture that are certainly crystal clear, there are other things that are not.
A perfect example is the issue of Women’s Ordination (WO). In a few months the Seventh-day Adventist church will be voting on whether or not to allow women to be ordained into the gospel ministry. The debate has been long and emotional. A committee was put together to study the topic and arrive at a consensus. No consensus was reached. Instead the committee arrived at 3 separate conclusions. And try as we may no one can demonstrate their position clearly from scripture. Regardless of whether you support or reject WO there is no clear “this is what God says” anywhere in scripture. The same goes true for many other topics in scripture that Christians disagree on. Historically these disagreements have resulted in intolerant behavior. Catholics have excommunicated Catholics. Catholics have persecuted Protestants. Protestants have persecuted Catholics. And Protestants have ostracized, ridiculed, and persecuted Protestants. The history of Christianity is bathed in divisions, coercion, and acts of violence toward those whose views differ from the majority. And now, as the WO vote approaches we see this same spirit of coercion at play. Name calling is common. Insults are the law of conversation. And demonization is promulgated in the guise of “exposing error.” In the midst of all this I have wondered, Why didn’t God make this issue perfectly clear so that we wouldn’t bash each other in the process of figuring it out? And then it hit me. He did it on purpose.
God could have made a dummy proof Bible verse for every single issue we face in this world, but he didn’t, and the conviction I now have is that God is more interested in love than he is in facts. God wants us to learn that in the midst of our disagreements we can love. He wants us to get to the place where we learn to treat each other with self-sacrificing passion even when we do not see eye to eye. The greatest revelation of love in the Bible is Christ giving himself fully for a humanity that did not love him in return. And this is the love that we must have for those we disagree with. So I have to wonder, as a supporter of WO, would I be willing to give my life for those who oppose WO? Would I willingly lay myself down for them? The answer is no. Of course not. Its hard enough to love those you agree with and consider your friends. Let alone those whose views make you angry. But this is what God is calling me to. To love – sacrificial, other-centered, self-abandoning love – those with whom I disagree.
And maybe this is the reason why the Bible isn’t always clear. Because if it was we would never go through the journey that confronts us with our most painful reality – our pride, arrogance, and love-bereft souls. But through the journey we can learn to love those whom we disagree with. Through it we can come to the place where we are no longer willing to be intolerant and hateful toward those “conservatives” or those “liberals” because our hearts are filled with an overflow of the love of God that pours out unto those we consider our worst enemies.
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