Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.'
Rev. Susan Smith Guest Columnist
The reason I put my contact information at the end of every column is that I really do want to hear from my readers. Your calls, letters and emails are always welcome - even when you do not agree with me.
When I become a Christian 28 years ago, I was surprised at the wide range of beliefs and practices within the faith and for several years it drove me crazy trying to figure out who was “right”. Today I realize that the differences in our faith tradition are longstanding, and more important than who is “right” is what do we share in common and how can we get there.
I was reminded of these differences recently with the feedback I received about my recent column “Let Justice Roll” that pointed out the injustices of racism and police brutality tearing our county apart. I expected to hear about that one because people have strong opinions about what the problems are and how we should solve them.
One reader wrote “I read your article today with great dismay. Just like you picked over the book of Timothy to call yourself "reverend", you picked through Amos to build a case for the destruction of countless lives of working people and our free society as a whole.” He felt I was missing the mark on weightier matters in other kinds of injustice, holiness, and salvation. Another reader wrote the complete opposite, “Thank you for your recent message. It is so timely and so needed. I grieve for our country because she has lost her way. Thank you for not being afraid to speak the truth from God’s Word.”
These two readers see things very differently and I appreciate them both along with all the others who fall somewhere in between. Having such different perspectives on the same article is an example of the larger struggle in our faith tradition where Christians do not see things the same way. I have thought about this a lot. This column is not the place to try and resolve such vast differences in the faith, but one thing I can do is offer ideas about how we can work together as God’s people. While these two readers may have very different views about injustice and the gospel, I truly believe they love the same God who was revealed through Jesus.
The history of Christianity is full of theological divisions, splits over doctrine, and disagreements about how to practice the faith. Even so, we are held together like spokes in a wheel by a central hub of loving the same God revealed to us through Jesus. In today’s polarized and divided world let us concentrate on the hub and not the spokes. Jesus commanded us to love one another as He has loved us. I have met people who did not believe a woman could be a pastor but because we love the same God, that love and the Holy Spirit helped us work together in ministry in areas where we did agree. You may disagree with your brother or sister in Christ over social issues, justice, and holiness but because you love the same God, the Holy Spirit can help you find ways to work together and live in peace if you are willing.
Rev. Smith is the Associate Pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church www.exodusmissionaryoutreachchurch.org and she can be reached at 828-962-8196, firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 3311, Hickory, NC 28603