I have observed one thing among true Christians in their differences in many countries: What divides and severs true Christian groups and Christians — what leaves a bitterness that can last for 20, 30 or 40 years (or for 50 or 60 years in a son’s memory) — is not the issue of doctrine or belief which caused the differences in the first place. Invariably it is lack of love — and the bitter things that are said by true Christians in the midst of differences. These stick in the mind like glue. And after time passes and the differences between the Christians or the groups appear less than they did, there are still those bitter, bitter things we said in the midst of what we thought was a good and sufficient objective discussion. It is these things — these unloving attitudes and words — that cause the stench that the world can smell in the church of Jesus Christ among those who are really true Christians. ~Francis Shaeffer in The Mark of the Christian.
I like what Witherington says about our need for intellectual certainty. Ironic that we, who proclaim the incomprehensible God, demand and, dare I say, contrive such precision in understanding His ways.
Sometimes I read a blog post and say, “Wow — I wish I had said that.” Such is this post.
When I do marital counseling, I try to teach the couple to value one another’s differences. If they can learn to do that, then they can synergize and see the marriage become greater than the sum of the two. It’s the same in the church.
Unfortunately, the tendency of human beings to be extremists in their thinking causes the two positions noted in Stetzer’s post to alienate one another rather than cherishing one another. The result — stagnancy. It must feel luke-warm to Jesus.