I hate to say it, but sometimes the church can have striking similarities with the current U.S. Congress. Thankfully, there is a solution to that problem.
A few days ago, as I was looking at the website for a local newspaper, I saw the name “Evan Bayh” as one of their featured topics. I had never heard that name before so I clicked on the link to see why this guy was newsworthy. It turned out that he is a U.S. senator representing the state of Indiana who decided that it was time for him to retire from politics. As I read the article, I came across a quotation from Mr. Bayh, that I am sure that many Americans would agree with. He said,
“For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the people’s business is not being done.”
Simply stated, he is leaving because he believes that Congress isn’t doing the job it was put in place to do, which is to serve the people. Sometimes when I look around, I wonder if God’s church is suffering from excess partisanship, and narrow ideology as well. However, instead of merely neglecting to do “the people’s business”, we are neglecting to do God’s business, which has much more serious consequences.
When Simone and I took the pre-wedding classes required by the church we were eventually married in, we learned that one of the things to beware of in a marriage is polarization. Polarization is essentially becoming an extreme version of yourself. For example, a spontaneous man marries a methodical woman, and instead of coming together on some sort of workable middle ground, they go in opposite directions. The spontaneous man becomes radically impulsive, and the methodical woman becomes unbearably rigid. Then whatever plans God had for them are seriously undermined.
We have to be very careful in both our local churches, as well as in the church at large, to avoid polarization; one group becoming extremely “liberal” and the other becoming extremely “conservative”, all the while each faction believes they have cornered the market on the correct way to be. The results of this behavior are lost souls, and a happy devil.
The only real solution to this problem is for everyone one to stop looking at themselves, and each other, and to start looking at Jesus. I saw an exercise one time where a group of people stood in a circle. The center of the circle represented the cross. Everyone was instructed to take one step towards the center, and as you may have guessed, they drew closer to one another. So if you want to avoid your church becoming like the U.S. Congress, focus on the cross. You might be amazed at what can happen.