Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

To Thine Own Self, Be True (and of course, To God Too)

Laura was complaining that I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. I told that I haven't felt like saying anything lately. "What? You talk all the time," she says.
So here I go, attempting to put into words what's rattling around in my brain...

One of the issues I've been thinking about has to do with the nature of ministry to others - how much do we accomodate the needs of those to whom we minister? I was talking with someone recently whose view was to adapt completely to the ones being ministered to. I disagreed where that adaptation or accomodation meant compromising biblical truth or if it meant my morphing into someone I'm not. (Shakespeare's "To thine own self, be true" truism)

There has to be some balance where we emulate Paul -"I become all things to all men, in order to win some" without preaching "another Gospel" that is an anathema. This debate though, rages not just in my own mind but also in the Emergent Movement, Seeker oriented churches, and the struggle with the Welcoming and Affirming (AWAB) homosexuals.

I was reading the ABE forum yesterday and there was some discussion on the latter issue and how the call to repentance from the homosexual lifestyle really is a "Gospel Issue". Dennis McFadden summarizes Vic Gordon's position as this: "No Christian ever has the right to change that which scripture consistently condemns as qualifying a person for eternity apart from God. ... it is not the 'loving' thing to do to lead people to believe that they can simultaneously affirm as a gift something which God says will result in their eternal damnation."

Taking Gordon's statement a step further, it is not loving to ignore a person's sin because you're afraid you'll scare them away from church if you say anything negative. There is a difference between accepting a person (as one Jesus loves and died for) and accepting their behavior. Working with high school students, I often encounter students who don't want to told that it's not a good idea to engage in pre-marital sex, to take drugs, to lie to their parents or whatever naughty thing they can think of. I'm sure there are some who'd just love it if I said,"Hey you're young and foolish-those are just a part of growing up." Some of them don't like me very much when I say instead, "You know, taking drugs (or whatever they're up to) is not what God wants for your life. Besides harming you physically, this is how your relationship with Christ is messed up..."

But what happens when the issue of accomodation doesn't involve sin? Then where do we draw the line between "playing it straight" or "bending over backwards"? Many years ago I had a non-Christian friend who liked chess so I bought a book on chess so I might have an additional means of relating to this friend. However, chess wasn't me (I had any desire for the game siphoned away in Jr. High by a neighbor who annoying laughed while it was my move on his way to trouncing me repeatedly). To "pretend" to like chess so that I could potentially share Christ was wrong - it would mean becoming something I'm not. That book on chess still sits on my bookshelf as a reminder to always be who God has made me and not to be someone else.
Thoughts?

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