refocus.

26 Jan

this past week there was a statement that caught my eye while reading through comments on rachel held evans’ blog – it was this ::

‘theologically pure, while being relationally toxic and self-absorbed.’

it stuck with me.

gnawed at me.

stirred things in me.  how often have i been like that?

and so i find myself writing this post, repeating what i’ve written in the past. reminding me, reminding you.

God. people. that’s what matters.

not doctrine.

too often spiritual maturity is defined by doctrine – by what we believe – and not enough by our relationships. my life – the pain of my past, my present restoration and the joy of the prospect of my future – has pushed me further into the camp of asking more questions than giving answers; of accepting and embracing rather than shunning those of different viewpoints or experiences; of genuinely celebrating community instead of seeking to ‘convert’ everyone around me to my held views under the presupposition that i couldn’t be wrong (and that if they disagree with me they couldn’t be right); of asking questions of God and each other rather than assuming that the whole of the human story and its related questions are known in their entirety by (even the brightest) finite minds of our day; of rethinking what it means to be a christ follower, rethinking what it means to evangelize and rethinking exactly what the ‘good news’ of jesus is.

‘theologically pure, while being relationally toxic and self-absorbed.’

it isn’t that doctrine holds no merit, but for far too long it’s served as the focus of our faith and rendered us useless.  christ’s priority was loving God and loving people.  it’s what he told his followers to focus on.  the danger in our obsession with doctrine is that we miss the point and lose focus of loving God and loving others.

followers of the Way want unity of community, not uniformity of doctrine. there are varied backgrounds, unique opinions and diverse worldviews that make up the tradition of our community of faith.  many of those in that community will not share the same opinion as you, or me, on a great many doctrines.  we may even sharply disagree.  but it’s not the point.

‘theologically pure, while being relationally toxic and self-absorbed.’

doctrine is nice.  but it’s not the point.  it’s not what matters.

right doctrine does not mean right living.

right doctrine does not mean you’re a christ follower.

believing the right thing does not equate to doing the right thing.  i am convinced that our obsession with studying of doctrine has caused more problems than good.  the focus on who’s right and who’s wrong over any number of potentially divisive subjects in the church has done more to pull us further away from jesus and gathering together in celebration of his redemptive work than drawing us closer to him and each other.

we’ve missed the point and need to refocus.

God.  people.  that’s what matters.

in matthew’s gospel we read the story of the protectors of doctrine coming to jesus and ‘testing’ him with a question:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

these are the pegs.  loving God and loving Others.

all the Law.  all the Prophets.  all doctrine.  everything.  love God.  love Others. the rest hangs on this.

when we don’t have that right, I would argue that right doctrine doesn’t even matter – at all.

i am convinced that christ is calling his church back to the basics of the faith – to follow him in community together, making a difference in our world by loving each one we encounter with the unconditional love that comes from God the father seen most clearly in jesus.

love. God. people.

if that’s what jesus was focused on, then perhaps we should focus on it too.

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