The truth about topics that divide the church
I didn’t want to go.
I didn’t want to go to the #IF Gathering in Texas (covered in CC March 24) because a lot of women who disagreed with me about hot topics were going to be there, and I’d been hurt and they had too, and we were supposed to do church together under the same roof.
But then I went, and there were candles and tears and one thousand of us gathered, arms lifted high to worship a God we longed to see, and when I looked around at these women – they were so beautiful. They were skin and flesh and blood just like me; they laughed just like me. They loved, and they cried, and there were no computer screens with bold, underlined font.
No, there was just US.
And this is what I know:
- We are not our opinions.
- We are not our virtues or our vices.
- We are sinners who are being saved.
When you reach across the table and touch the arm of someone, when you look into their eyes and see the soul that lives there – a soul that aches for mercy and wholeness and healing as much as you do – it is impossible to be angry. You cannot be divided.
When you come face to face with God’s creation there are no “hot topics.” There are only people.
Turning toward God
And this is what I’m realizing about all of these divisive topics – feminism, homosexuality, abortion. Yes, we can write about them – and it’s important that we talk about them, that we discuss our fears, our concerns, our beliefs, our hopes, together in the context of fellowship – but if this is what defines us as a church, we’ve missed the entire point. We’ve missed the soul.
A while ago I wrote a piece on the four kinds of talk every marriage needs: small talk, sweet talk, serious talk and soul talk.
The church needs to have these kinds of talks too.
1. We need to have small talk in the foyer;
2. We need sweet talk in the mailboxes – encouragement and laughter in cards and letters;
3. We need to have serious talks (about theology, sociology and points of contention) as a congregation and in small groups;
4. But more than that, we need to have soul talk (digging deeper: asking about the person, versus an idea, such as, “What are you most afraid of, and why?”).
That is, we need to get to know one another BEYOND the divisive issues and the opinions.
Soul Talk is what gets beyond the serious topics that divide us. It’s the conversation that could save the church. It’s the conversation that could turn people from judgment and towards the heart of the Father.
Soul Talk reminds all of us that we are people who need love.
Not love as in the Hallmark kind, because that ain’t love. That’s just a bunch of feelings.
No, love as in the person who died on a cross all bruised and broken and bloody, the radical sacrifice which holds onto righteousness while loving sinners.
Love is this: Sinner meets Grace.
We cannot have one without the other – we cannot have grace without sin, or sin without grace.
And the greatest of these is love. Love wraps up these terms with a red thread.
A thread which pulls the hardest of serious topics into a tight embrace.
Soul Talk in the church looks like the #IF Gathering, looks like believers who don’t see eye to eye, becoming dust to dust beside each other – and getting to the heart of things.
And this is the heart of things: that we all need Jesus.