I feel like church is a giant petri dish where differences fester and grow for scrutinization. Some facilitate this growth for intellectual pursuits believing something can be learned from different perspectives. Others facilitate this growth to search for a remedy seeking to eradicate this disease of different thinking before it spreads.
On the whole, I think most people just overlook my differences. They say things I am questioning aren’t salvation issues and toss them aside as matters of opinion. However, there are members of the body, of the Church, whose interpretations and upbringing don’t allow them to share that philosophy. They see me making allowances that they interpret as slippery slopes leading to moral compromise. Because they love the church and me so fervently, they fervently strive to prevent this perceived slip. They grasp at and cling to me trying to steady my feet and prevent my fall. These would be rescuers are in a massive tug of war with the forces of evil. My vacillating soul is the rope.
This is an act of love. Wholly and truly.
The problem is: I am not really vacillating. I disagree. I am different. But I fervently love the church, too. I fervently want a safe place to intellectually discuss what I am thinking and questioning. I want legitimate answers about doctrine and honest admission of what isn’t known. I want room to breathe in the Spirit and freedom to go where I feel led and space to explore ideas.
I am not being contrary just for the sake of being contrary. I am not trying to cause division.
Predominately, my questions are answered with a contemptuous brush off. While frustrating, that is the best of the worst. But there are times when well meaning people look through their dogmatic colored lenses and see my protective levee crumbling under a flood of false teachings or shaky beliefs. They fling scripture like sandbags in a desperate attempt to stop a breach. Again, it is good loving intent.
But I don’t see their intent. I see their action. Then I make my own assumptions about their scheme because I wear my very own pair of dogmatic colored lenses.
I view their attempt at sandbagging as an effort to bury my questions. I recognize their clinging and flailing as suffocating and choking. I mistake their ardent pleas to get me to see their point of view for judgement.
Do you see the cycle I create? In my stubbornness and pride, I drive the wedge even deeper.
Why does everyone taste discord and division when I present them with an alternative interpretation? Could taste buds be distorted by perceptions or interpretations? Is that the same reason I taste judgement in their acts of love?
Of course, there are always people who are judgmental. I am one of them. But mostly, church is full of people who are just trying to do what they believe is best. We all have different ideas based on nuances in our interpretations of God’s word. If we spend all of our time trying to convince people that we are right, we are doing it wrong (on both sides).
If I expect the grace to question things or disagree, should I not extend grace to cover the ones threatened by my disagreement?
I want people to believe the best in me, so why not believe the best in people and trust that in their earnest attempt to love me, they said something to keep me safe and away from what they perceived to be harm? Because that is what love does.