I have deliberately chosen to stay within the faith tradition that I was born into. This was not a choice made for convenience; it was a choice made to practice steadfastness. It is a choice to have roots, and to love the baggage that comes with those roots. This post is born out of love for that tradition. My love for my tradition is not blind or naïve but instead seeks to bring into sharper relief our ongoing need to be transformed.
My faith tradition is deeply rooted in the Restoration movement. For those unfamiliar, this movement desired to focus on what Scripture had to say. The movement wanted to send people back to the Bible and recreate the first century church. These were lofty and noble goals born of a desire to see individuals pursue God through the Holy Word. I believe these goals to be gifts from God, divine inspiration. In the season this movement began, they were a healthy counterbalance to the way religious traditions operated.
But like all gifts, they contain a shadow side. This focus on recreating the first century church instilled a value for right processes that taken to an extreme can become quite dangerous. In fact, it has become dangerous. Our understanding of life with God has to be able to fit into a five step plan. Our view of God’s Kingdom has to have verbatim instructions in the New Testament. Our life in community must follow patterns that are predictable and straight.
These strict boundaries began to serve as straightjackets. There is no room for messy. Creativity becomes suspect. Relationship is devalued. I don’t believe our tradition’s desire to honor God in our practices is wrong. But I think that we have made right theology an idol. We worship being right. We worship our own biblical literacy. We worship keeping others out. These are idolatry. Each and every one of them elevates our rightness over God.
But what about this from John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” ?
What about this from Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ?
In short, we got so wrapped up in getting everything right with God that we never stopped to see how to be right with people.
My heart longs to remind my brothers and sisters that the love of God is big. In fact, it’s immeasurable. And, if this love can forgive our self-idolatry, isn’t it adequate for our fear of being wrong as well?