Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Way And The Fray

Early Christians didn't call themselves Christians...they were referred to as followers of "The Way." I don't know when that phrase faded from our vocabulary, but in many ways I wish it hadn't.

I was going to let the fray over the SpongeBob post fizzle out without further comment from me, but as I am often led to do, I started wrestling with the idea that there was a lesson in all this for me.

After reading all the comments - heck that's the most I've ever gotten on a post, easily beating out my last controversial musing on whether you should bend the pages of books - I felt compelled to say one or two things more.

First off, I am thankful for the passion of thought brought to the table here. I am a believer that we can not grow in Christ alone, we must grow in community...and sometimes members of that community disagree among themselves. That does not mean we are not still brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite the opposite actually. I think it's healthy and although in truth such spirited discussions are not likely to change many minds, I find it helpful if for no other reason than it forces me to peer into my personal mirror to make certain I know the man at whom I'm gazing.

I appreciate the efforts made to be respectful during this discussion and in that light I wanted to say to Liddy, "you're right." I used a poor choice of words. I have a close family member who is gay and who has worked with gay youth on a suicide hotline; I should have given more thought to my remark of "I'm not a fan of homosexuality." I was too flippant in trying to convey that I am not an advocate of the gay lifestyle. I know words can hurt, but that certainly wasn't my intent. I'm glad you called me on it.

As I was writing, Amy handed me an email from a long time member of our church who has struggled in his beliefs informing her that he was leaving the church. He didn't spell out why and I'm not certain he really knows, but his choice is very painful for us as I'm sure it will be for many others. It was also a lousy way to start the day. I have worshipped with this man for many years and I will miss him. Amy walked away in tears.

It brought me back to this recent dialog, what I think I have learned from it, and a reminder of what I believe is truly important.

I believe it takes discernment and honest study to understand what Christ wants from me. I know I can easily be led astray. I believe I must help others along the path and be certain I'm not so fixated on the road ahead that I overlook those people wondering if they're on the right road at all.

However foremost among my beliefs is that my focus must at all times be the worship of God.

I think I've been shown this week that I need to stay on that path, help those I can, but if I get embroiled in trying to change the minds of friends who believe their spiritual struggle is guiding them elsewhere, or people who think SpongeBob is a tool of evil, I risk losing direction and forgetting to worship all I do.

These other things are important, but my best and most heartfelt option to deal with them is through the worship of God.

When I do that - with an honest faith - I believe He will show me "The Way."

"I am the way and the truth and the life."