Monday, April 9, 2007

More Balance, Please?


There is something that's been weighing pretty heavy on my heart for several months now. I can't say when exactly that I first began to notice it, but I think it was sometime last summer, maybe early fall. The timing of this and my letting up a bit at ENo last year, was not a coincidence. While I certainly do believe there is a Biblical mandate for shining a bright light in dark places (and yes, much of what's attached to the ECM is very dark), I also believe there is a balance we have to strike, and stay there. If not, we pretty much turn into people like Ruben Israel. If you don't know who he is, you're blessed. If you do, you know exactly what I'm talking about, and I'll leave it with that.

This issue came up again this morning as I checked my email and found an alert to a discussion forum I joined many years ago. I opted into the weekly email updates, so just like clockwork, every Sunday morning I get the "what's new this week" notice from the forum. I almost never read it, I just delete it and get about my email reading. For some reason this morning though, I decided to open the mail and find out what was new on this particular forum. It was doing that, that reminded me of exactly why I never read this forum anymore, and never bother with the weekly updates. Just a whole lotta "I hate this" and "this is evil" and "watch me point fingers at this" sort of stuff. Post after post after post, filled with anger, hatred and bitter accusation against denominations, individuals and/or various assorted fellowships or associations.

The thing is, I do get why people do this. I get that there are all kinds of ungodly things going on under the banner of Christianity. I get that there is much deception out there. I get that the motives (at least for some) for pointing at it are genuine concern. I do get all that. I'm so on board with that I'd be one of the first ones to say thank you and right on brother/sister for sounding the alarm on this one. In fact, I think I probably have said that, or something close to it, in many cases.

What I don't get however, when I read so much of this stuff or spend any amount of time around folks that are like this, is JOY. I just don't get it from them at all. (Just to be clear, I'm not referring to the occaisional criticism of something or someone, I'm strictly referring to the constant critical nature that we've all seen from some sites/blogs. Funny thing is, there are a few people that thought I was exactly like this from what they read at ENo, how's that for a "go figure"?)

They seem to be more driven by tearing down/exposing/accusing/insulting others, than by God's unspeakable grace that we are not the very people spreading a false gospel that we warn others about. There is more interest, more excitement and more involvement when the topic is "why I hate this" than when the topic is "why I love Him". That balance I spoke of earlier is simply not there at all, in many cases.

Even as I type this, I know I have been just as guilty of this in times past, as anyone else. That grieves me more than anything, that the very thing I see in others that clearly and obviously does not bring glory to God's name, I see in myself. YUCK! I don't want it there.

I don't want it there so much, that I recently (over the last few months) had to go through a lot of my links & programs and remove many things that tend to feed & fuel this in me. I know where my weak spots are, and I know that I'm the only one that can do anything about it, by removing myself from the temptation to get into the mix. I simply had to remove the mix.

One of the more ironic things about all this, is what it does to me physically. I have a tummy condition (IBS, or so they say) and in times of intense stress, it flares up like gangbusters. Over the last year or so it became more and more obvious to me that when I would visit some of these links I mentioned, that the more I read and/or the longer I was there at the sites, the more my stomach began to hurt. At one point I wondered to myself "Carla, just how stupid can you possibly be?". I mean, it was so blatantly obvious what was causing my stomach to hurt, and yet there I was feeding the very pain that leaves me incapacitated and on my knees in prayer for hours at times. Why was I doing this to myself?? I didn't have any reasonable, rational answer. I still don't, other than to say it's just really easy to get caught up into that mindset of thinking you're doing the Christian community at large a huge favor by constantly pointing at all the evil out there.

Don't get me wrong, important aspects of this sort of calling or ministry is indeed Biblical. To warn the weaker brothers and sisters out there of false teaching is something that we're taught in the Scriptures in numerous places. But... it's got to be blended and balanced with grace, mercy, patience, compassion, joy in the Lord, and humility that reminds us that we're to be salt and light, not sticks and stones. It's got to be, or all we're doing is running around like the folks in Mesa (read here and here and here) this past week, screeching obnoxious things and being completely ignored by the very people they say they hope to reach.

I hope all that made some amount of sense to someone. I pray that it did, because if it didn't and I'm the only one seeing the destructive nature of this kind of bitter, angry all-the-time-attitude then... then I don't know what that even means.

In a very backwards way, and in a way I'm sure the Street Screechers (which by the way was my name for them and yes I'm taking the credit for it! lol) never in a million years expected, they indeed gained a convert this week. The convert was me and the message was exactly the opposite of what they were screeching. They were a great example to me of what we are not called to look like, or sound like, EVER.

I can only hope the Lord would be pleased to convict them, as well.

And to HIM be all the glory.


And this, is yet another perfect example of what I'm talking about. I posted this last night right around the same time James was posting his own account of the day. It is just incredible to me that this man Lonnie Pursifull would have the audacity and the lack of focus to spend his Resurrection Day in such a way. It also didn't escape my notice that God providentially had His beautiful song birds singing melodies that were far and away much more beautiful than anything Lonnie could have hoped to say. (You'll have to listen to the Shrubbery Sermon link that James provided).

But this is what I'm talking about - this complete lack of balance. Instead of spending his day in worship and praising God for the resurrection of our Lord, this man spent his morning tearing down a brother, outside of his own church, with threats of returning next week as well. And for what!? For the sole purpose of tearing down another believer, and nothing else. That was it. This is his mission and his goal. Simply incredible.

What comes to mind as I consider such a mission by a professing believer:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Romans 14:19)

Some serious questions to consider:

Are we busy edifying anyone by ministering grace to those who hear/read what we have to say? Is that our goal? Are we following after the things which make for peace, and build one another up? Is that our goal?

The more ironic thing here to me is that even if brother James wasn't a brother, and he most certainly is, would this style of "evangelism" bring him to repentance before God? Is there any Biblical precedent for such outrageous, hate filled screeching, to bring men the gospel of our Lord? (Which by the way I'm not even sure the gospel of Christ was ever even presented, but rather just condemnation and accusation against James). Of course not, because this is not Biblical Christianity that this man is engaging in. It's a completely unbalanced, self-indulgent, self-gratifying, hate-campaign, in the name of Jesus.

As James wrote on his blog last night:

"Please pray the Lord will restrain the madness of these men, remove their support, and end their hateful campaign of spewing hatred in the name of Christ."

To which I heartily say: AMEN.