A friend of mine was Superintendent of another state’s Baptist Union. They had to vote on a very difficult issue requiring a high percentage majority to pass. The motion was lost and the result threatened to divide the churches into two hostile groups over the issue in question. As well the result denied a significant number of people in the churches recognition for what they were successfully doing in Christian service.
My friend got the two leaders of the opposing viewpoints together, men he had known over the years, sat them down and stated…”For the sake of our churches and our people, we must resolve this issue and you two fellows together with a couple of your friends and supporters must work together until you can find a solution”.
It took them a couple of years work. It started with them really listening to the opposing viewpoints and understanding the hopes, fears and theologies of one another. But they came up with a solution. It changed their denominational constitution and satisfied most parties involved. It released people for ministry in churches and ministries where they were accepted. My friend told me “It was hard work listening to strongly held opposing views and finding a way out for everyone, but it was done and they all came out with respect and appreciation for one another”. Their solution came “out of left field,” it worked then and it still works for their churches and people today!
Sometimes we can try our best to find ways out of difficult situations and fail. Then we have to go back and start again, with a determination to love one another, as Jesus commanded us, and seek to find another way out, even if it comes from an unexpected direction.
Perhaps we need to think about that at present and ask ourselves, is there another way in which we can resolve the strongly held views that different people have about membership in our church? Can we work together with respect for one another and determine to reach a solution, even if it comes from an unexpected direction?
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, being torn about by tongue speaking, and said in the light of that divisive issue…. “And I will show you a still more excellent way…” The way of love. You can read about that better but more difficult way in 1 Corinthians 13.
However, reading it is relatively easy. It is not just saying we love and accept one another, but it is about doing loving things for one another that is more difficult. If we follow that path, we then become truly loving people and a truly loving church. Perhaps that is the challenge that faces us at present?