5) Doctrine/World View
Let me first say that I believe all of the issues here are valid issues, and were I making my own list, at least a few of them might make my Top Ten as well. However, the results of the study and the issues that made the Top Ten really concerned me, and here's why: as followers of Jesus (and especially those of us who are church leaders), we have allowed ourselves to become known more by the issues we are for or against than by how we love.
(As an aside, loving others didn't make the Top Ten. Is it because we're already so great at loving each other and loving those in our communities? Or is it a gross oversight by the 1,300 CHURCH LEADERS who were polled?)
In the sermon I preached, we opened up John 13:35 and read Jesus' words in what was kind of his final address to his disciples:
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Just imagine the scene: when Jesus says these words, it’s during the Last Supper, right before he is going to be arrested and crucified. And his disciples don’t quite understand everything that’s going on, but I think they do understand that this is a significant night, because Jesus is kind of giving a farewell address. And in the midst of this, he says, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples..." I wasn’t there, and I may be reading into the text here, but I imagine that there must have been a significant pause after those words. You know, we read it like “By this all people will know that you are my disciples... (long pause) if you love one another.”
Maybe after that pause, there was a sense of expectation in the room. What’s he gonna say? Jesus, how will people know? What should we do so that people know we belong to you, that you’re the Messiah, and we can change the world?
Let's take a quick minute here and imagine some of the things that Jesus could have said, but didn’t:
“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples…if you vote Republican.”
Just to be fair…
“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples…if you vote Democrat.”
“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples…if you covereth thou car with Jesus fish and traditional values bumper stickers.”
“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples…if you show up to eat at Chick-fil-A on a certain day.”
Let me be clear: those things that I just mentioned, in and of themselves, are not bad things (unless you're a staunch Republican or a staunch Democrat, I suppose). The problem is that we have allowed those issues to define who we are as followers of Jesus. But THIS is what Jesus said: “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That's how we're supposed to be defined as followers of Jesus: as people who love one another. But it is not so, at least as far as I can tell.
So, how are we doing on that? Is it something that resonates with you? Or did I just really, REALLY rub you the wrong way?