Many people would say I complain a lot. That might be true. Perhaps it is true that week after week I vent out my frustrations not only with friends but also here. Constantly I have to remind myself that Jesus calls me to love others. It is not pretty to disagree. In fact, it is really uncomfortable. While I write this blog every Sabbath (or Saturday), I stop and think if I am being loving or just the opposite.
I believe this is a time for all of us to do that. During the current session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 1,381 delegates voted “no,” 977 voted “yes,” and five abstained from voting to allow each of the 13 divisions to choose whether they ordain women as pastors or not. The topic has been an issue of great relevance in the church for the past five years, and will definitely be one of much debate in the following months. While this might not be a step forward, it is not a step backwards (we can disagree on this one).
I’m not sure what will happen. I don’t know how many people will leave our church, but I do know something: whatever happens depends on us. Whether we stay or leave the church is our decision and will not be anyone else’s fault. We decide. And I encourage you to stay.
We have taken this issue beyond a healthy, constructive discussion, as we have done many other times. This happened and still happens on both sides of the arguments, just as it does in politics. In fact, we are handling church issues as if we were politicians. Some like to say our leaders are playing politics, but I think we are playing the role of angry constituents who help polarize the church. We might all be just as guilty and is time we become humble again.
By uniting and moving forward, I’m not asking anyone to stop what they think is a righteous cause (or plight). We have a great example from the past we must follow today. Imagine how believers felt after Jesus didn’t show up on October 22, 1844, when they were convinced he would return that day. We must follow the example of those who kept studying wanting to know Truth. Let us continue studying as humble servants of God who thirst for truth. Who knows when we might find an oasis.
We will still disagree, I know. I believe that is fine. In fact, I think it is great. However, we must disagree in love. Instead of boasting because the delegates voted “no” and calling in a triumph and saying the Bible won, let’s remember this is not a competition. We must not put anyone down. We must stop thinking that because others don’t think the way we do they are less spiritual and less learned in the Bible. We should not be needing to resort to fallacious arguments as many of uf keep doing. We need to be humble.
On the other hand, we should not see the vote as a defeat. Again, this is not a competition. We should not believe that those who don’t agree with us are bigots (some might be, just as we might be bigots on the other side of the spectrum). We should also not use poor rhetoric or shamming language. We need to be humble.
Yes, there is anger and disappointment. Sadly, there is also a sense of superiority and happiness in our neighbor’s defeat. This is completely wrong. We have a merciful, just, and loving God who gave us Jesus as our Savior. He is merciful, compassionate, and loving. He asked us to forgive as he forgives us and to love one another. God’s grace is a gift for you, me, and your neighbor that thinks differently.
Let us show grace to one another. Let us love one another. Let us ask God to make us humble.