Friday, December 20, 2013

oppositions in the church

I wrote the following as a post script to my answer to a question posed to the Ask Angela column (go read the full response if ya like).
WHY OPPOSITIONS IN THE CHURCH ARE PRODUCTIVE : They push us toward a new kind of being.

Eugene England explained it this way: "In the life of the true Church, there are constant opportunities for all to serve, especially to learn to serve people we would not nor­mally choose to serve—or possibly even associate with—and thus opportunities to learn to love unconditionally. There is constant encouragement, even pressure, to be “active”: to have a calling” and thus to have to grapple with relationships and management, with other peoples ideas and wishes, their feel­ings and failures; to attend classes and meetings and to have to listen to other people’s sometimes misinformed or prejudiced notions and to have to make some constructive response; to have leaders and occasionally to be hurt by their weakness and blindness, even unrighteous dominion; and then to be made a leader and find that you, too, with all the best intentions, can be weak and blind and unrighteous. Church involvement teaches us compassion and patience as well as courage and dis­cipline. It makes us responsible for the personal and marital, physical, and spiritual welfare of people we may not already love (or may even heartily dislike), and thus we learn to love them. It stretches and challenges us, though disappointed and exasperated, in ways we would not otherwise choose to be— and thus gives us a chance to be made better than we might choose to be, but ultimately need and want to be. ( )
I love that explanation because it conveys that it is also as much my responsibility to love and be patient with those who feel there is no place for "disruptive feminists," as it is their responsibility to accept and love "disruptive feminists." We are all a part of the "school of love" of belonging to a church full of people different from us.
Also, it's funny because we (my roommates and I) were just talking yesterday about how we have had to very quickly come to terms with the fact that, to be who we are and to say the things that we say, to speak out against what we view as ignorance and misunderstanding, means accepting the consequences... that we may create "contention" and be disliked. In a small way, it feels like how the prophets were stoned for saying what was hard for those around them to hear.
And in the midst of all of this we are to maintain a Christlike love for those who don't understand us and who "stone" us. It's good to be reminded that that they have a place in the body of Christ, the same as me.