Church can’t only be about comfort and agreement

Wesley J. Wildman and Stephen Chapin Garner writing for the Alban Institute:

The first great test of the liberal-evangelical church, and of your moderate and radical Christian faith, occurs when you face conflict and difference in your community. Can you sit next to someone who will vote oppositely to you on the question of gay marriage and still move forward together to celebrate Communion?

Can you participate in a Bible study or a faith discussion group and genuinely strive to understand in depth the person who has a different view of salvation through Christ than you do? It is so easy to shut down in the face of such disagreements. But that is when you and the church both lose. Church can’t be only about comfort and agreement, and that is doubly so for the liberal-evangelical church, with its Christ-centered commitment to radical inclusiveness and the principle of agape love. Divine love shines when you stay connected, especially when it feels like a major effort to do so. Strive for the spiritual maturity to place love ahead of personal comfort and your church’s witness will flourish.

The second great test is whether you will commit yourself to the practices that build up the church and your faith. In particular, will you look for educational opportunities within your congregation and strive to deepen your understanding of your faith? Will you encourage your church to centralize practices such as the Eucharist that bind differently minded people together in the name of Christ? It takes work to learn, and it is often uncomfortable to have our existing beliefs broadened and to make new discoveries. But committing to the journey of learning is part of discipleship and it can be incredibly exciting if you stick with it.

Read the whole article. Do you agree with the authors that a laity that is both liberal and evangelical constitutes a great swath of the Church, yet feels lonely and disenfranchised?

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