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Allow me to borrow the title from Pete Scazzero’s book, and ask the question: What would the Church here in the U.S. look like if it were emotionally healthy? If instead of dwelling in emotional fusion it was able to imitate God’s patient, humble, self differentiated love? First, pastors and church leaders would stop making an issue of things like evolution, global warming, and liberal-conservative politics. How come? Because: reasonable people tend to have different opinions on things like these… and our Scripture teaches us that it’s okay to differ. No one is “saved” by believing the right things about evolution, global warming, or political leaning… “But doesn’t what you believe about God impact what you believe about these things?” Yes. But devoted Christians come down on both sides of each issue! To make these issues into divisive litmus tests for faith is a symptom of emotional fusion that implies: if we’re going to be in the same tribe, you better believe what I believe!
St. Paul had a completely different approach to ministry. He vowed to “know nothing but Jesus Christ…crucified.” The only message that mattered to him was the message of the Cross. It was completely fine with him if some people believed the world was flat (the European “barbarians” believed in a flat earth, the Romans however knew it was round) – because it’s okay to be wrong about some things! One day we’ll know everything perfectly – but for the time being, let’s focus on the important things…taking God seriously, and taking everything else with a grain of salt. Let’s not be like stupid kids in getting into a fist fight arguing over who’s better, Batman or Ironman… Obviously Batman is cooler, but it’s okay for you to be wrong about this 😛
Second, if the church was more emotionally healthy, I think we’d have a better attitude toward our haters. Instead of wanting to crush people with our arguments, I think we’d care more about understanding where other people are coming from, and trying to be understood as well. Our message should be loud and clear: Yes, we do want to persuade you – but no, we don’t want to take over your life and do your thinking for you…
And third, I think local churches would be more diverse… I would absolutely hate for someone who loves Jesus to EVER feel out of place in our local church tribe. I don’t care if they had three heads and believed that aliens lived in Roswell — there HAS to be room for you in Jesus’ tribe. More realistically – people will believe something that is plausible but wrong – or they will believe something that sounds wrong to you, but is absolutely true!! If we grow properly we tend to lose more and more of our false beliefs – so instead of challenging these tangential beliefs, why not keep an open mind (and open dialogue), and focus on what we really do care about: God loves you, Jesus died for you, and now he wants you to enter His tribe (the church) and follow Him.