These Things Ought Not So To Be
The utter absence of real charity and love among men in the days when our Lord was upon earth ought not to be overlooked. Well would it be if men had never quarreled about religion after He left the world! Quarrels among the crew of a sinking ship are not more hideous, unseemly, and irrational than the majority of quarrels among professors of religion. A historian might truly apply St. John’s words [“For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” – John 4:9] to many a period in church history, and say, “The Romanists [Catholics] have no dealings with the Protestants,” or “the Lutherans have no dealings with the Calvinists,” or “the Calvinists have no dealings with the Arminians,” or “the Episcopalians have no dealings with the Presbyterians,” or “the Baptists have no dealings with those who baptize infants,” or “the Plymouth Brethren have no dealings with anybody who does not join their company.” These things ought not so to be. They are the scandal of Christianity, the joy of the devil, and the greatest stumbling-block to the spread of the Gospel.
So wrote J. C. Ryle, an Anglican bishop, in 1869. Things are still the same today.
I’ve been guilty of this attitude. There have been many times in my past as a Christian where I was content to stay within the bubble of those who believed exactly what I believed. Everyone outside the bubble was wrong, or less serious about their faith, or maybe just evil. And by “everyone” I mean others who professed to be Christians.
I’m embarrassed by my past attitude. It’s not like I had always and consistently been that way. I had been quite charitable mostly. But I got sucked up into the club of exclusivity. It was cold, stark, unlike Jesus Christ. Ultimately, I got away from it, but fell extremely far away from Jesus too.
There are former associates of mine who, if they knew where I worship now and the respect I have for the community of Christians to which God has brought me, would see my current involvement with these folks as proof that I never had true faith and it was fitting that I was excommunicated from a church in 1999.
Did I just say that out loud? Yes, excommunicated. Not for matters of faith, but for conduct. Maybe someday I’ll write about that. But I’ll have to charge for that blog post. Save up your money to pay for a Substack subscription.
Truly, I am grateful that Jesus has led my family and me to a community of sincere believers. I pray that He will help me to serve my brothers and sisters, to love and honor them, to learn from them. And I pray that He will prevent me from forming any bubble here in order that I could love and fellowship with all I may encounter who have the Spirit of Christ living in them.