Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm Troubled

I'm troubled.
Seems like every day we read about one religious leader or group going after another. That's troubling. More to the point, however, is the drag these fights are on our witness within the community and congregation.
Which still doesn't bring me to my trouble.
In Acts 23 (read it here), Paul is promised by God that he would preach in Rome. God gave Paul a clear message and call for the next period of his life. Wow! How exhilarating that would be; a clear call for courage to reach people for Christ. I wonder if Paul slept well that night or spent the night checking Orbitz or Travelocity for the best route to Rome. The next morning, however, not one, not three, but more than 40 Jews reportedly swore an oath to kill Paul. That surely would have thwarted God's plans. But God wanted Paul to preach in Rome, so he protected him starting with a nephew's report to Paul (vs. 16), the commander's listening ear (vs. 20) and the commander's order for protection (200 soldiers, seventy horsemen, two hundred spearmen, vs. 23). I'm sure the commander didn't know a thing about God's plan for Paul. Paul was a Roman citizen and this commander was going to be sure Paul was getting to Rome. I wonder if the conspirators stuck to their oath and never ate again?
Which almost gets me to my trouble.
We are commanded in scripture to take our questions to the person or leader in a certain order (read Matthew 18:15-17). Too often in this day and age of rapid communication, social media and electronic assistance, our combatants circumvent this command and let the world know first. Is it wrong to ask for change? No. Is it wrong to point out sin? No. But handle the affair as described in Matthew 18. It is not scriptural to ambush a pastor, a church leader or a worshiping community and think there won't be consequences.
So what troubles me? 
We don't fight well. We used to sing, "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love," but I'm afraid it has has morphed to, "They'll Know We are Christians by the Way We Wound Each Other." Why do we behave like those without a moral, ethical, or even scriptural compass? Is this a real issue? Take a cup of coffee at a coffee house, listen to the patrons near you in a restaurant or read letters to the editor and you will see that our worldly tussles are fodder for jokes and distracting to our message of love. Leaving a group of lost souls laughing over our efforts to save the world.
We must grieve God.
That's what really troubles me.