Removing the plank in our own eye
This division is in our ideology. We are not divided into two camps, but on a spectrum. On one end, we have legalistic Christians who follow the letter of the Biblical law. On the other end, we have atheists who don't believe in God. Somewhere in the middle, we have agnostic people who are neither believers nor unbelievers.
The legalists are important to Christians because they keep everyone reminded of what we are called to be. The issue is that sometimes they get too excited about keeping everyone on track and forget that not everyone believes the same things they do. To everyone who does not believe as they do, this can be seen as attacking - whether it's meant to or not. If we are attacking people as a form of evangelism, shame on us. That is not what we are instructed to do. We are specifically told to act in love, and love does not attack. For a list of things love does, read 1 Corinthians 12-14.
All those who feel unwelcomed or invalidated by the church can often feel attacked by the well-meaning legalists. These “outsiders” should remind us that questioning things is absolutely fine. In fact, unless this group speaks up, most of us would go around looking like jerks because we forget that not everyone believes the same things we do. These people are welcome, and the church as we know it would not exist without them coming in and questioning us. Not only are they welcome, they need to be listened to. Often times, these outsiders have questioned faith so much that they bring up points the rest of us haven’t thought of before.
The church has burned a lot of people. Overzealous legalists pushing their brand of faith down other people’s throats can do it. Church leaders not listening can turn people away. People claiming to act as “Jesus’s hands and feet” who do not truly act as they are called to act can turn people away. Those who act as if they are Jesus are especially effective at alienating others.
We, Christians, must step back and reexamine ourselves. We must read our Bibles and humble ourselves before our hurt brothers and sisters. We must start by apologizing to those who have been hurt and work to see things from their perspective. We must make sure they are heard and they are welcomed. We do not attempt to become their savior, but instead point them to the Savior. We must not attack them, but protect them when they are being attacked.
As for dealing with our more legalistic brothers and sisters, we have to be patient. We must not keep quiet, but act in kindness. We must remind them that we are all humans and we all fail at times. We must teach them how to question. We must listen to them because we want to be listened to. We must not attack them, but protect them when they are being attacked.
Our campus has great potential for change, but we must stop battling ourselves. A war which divides us does not win anything. We must come together, unbend our pride and remember that we are all here together. If we stop being rude and quit looking down on each other, we can become a tribe. We need to encourage and show that we genuinely care about each other. We all want to have a place where we always belong, even if we don’t always agree with each other.
We are not united, but we can be.
Sara Eigsti- More by this author
Sara Eigsti is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.