A young man (anybody younger than me is young) came into my study here last week to ask me some questions about Legacy. This man is going through the final stages of a horrible divorce. He’s lived out in West Texas for several years but is now moving back to DFW. He was born and reared in Dallas. And as he’s shopping for a church here in North Tarrant County, he asks me this question:
“Where is Legacy compared to ___ ___ Church of Christ and ___ ___ Church of Christ?”
And he named two congregations in Dallas, one known throughout our fellowship as being “progressive” or “liberal” and the other labled as “traditional” or “conservative.”
Where is Legacy on that line? Where are you?
Of course, it reminded me of that A-B Line we’re all trying to eradicate from our thinking and our conversations, this linear way of thinking and talking that does our church families and the Kingdom of God much harm. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago. (You can read it again by clicking here.) And I told this man in my office, “I’m not going to have the conversation this way.”
When we use words like “conservative” or “progressive” or “liberal” or “traditional” we’re really just describing people’s opinions. And discussions that focus on these words and concepts and the issues they invite inevitably turn into political battles for power instead of spiritual searches for the truth.
The truth is nowhere to be found on that line.
Henri Nouwen, in his book In the Name of Jesus, addresses church leaders on the dangers of this type of thinking:
“Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.
Dealing with burning issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.”
I explained the A-B Line way of thinking to this young man in my study and he caught on very quickly. He seemed to appreciate my desires to jump off that line in our considerations and conversations to focus on the sanctification and salvation of the souls here at Legacy and the lost in our immediate community. He fell in love with the concept of being guided by the Word of God and his Holy Spirit instead of outside forces such as other churches and that constantly-moving “middle of the road.”
It’s really easy to show people the flaws in the way we think and talk about church and the benefits of the alternative “C” way of doing things. It’s a piece of cake to do that in one-on-one discussions. But how do we communicate this to the entire church body? How do we get everybody to jump off the line? It’s such a radical idea, and so opposite of the way we’ve always thought and talked, I’m afraid teaching this in classrooms or preaching it on Sunday would make things worse instead of better.
Is it even possible to get an entire church body to jump off the A-B Line? How do we do it?