Evangelicals dividedBy Dwight L. Roth Monroe, N.C.
Evangelicals all start out with much the same biblical premise: Humans have rebelled; sin has entered the world; redemption has come through Jesus Christ.
But then we get sidetracked: We hold onto what separates us rather what we have in common. We judge each other. We focus on our differences.
As a result, we end up with odd evangelical mutations. Some focus on the right translation of the Bible, or the literal interpretation of Scripture, or the correct mode of baptism, or a social gospel for the poor, or a peace position against war, or a Holy Spirit baptism that brings a second work of grace. Some focus on wealth and prosperity. Some get caught up in the style of worship. Some believe the United States is God’s chosen nation.
We become known for our stance on these issues rather than for who we are in Christ. We come bearing judgment, fear and even hate instead of good news. We reproduce more of ourselves while moving farther away from the love Jesus said was the real test of a disciple.
Lost in our differences, we miss the blessing of diversity. We have much to learn from one another. The world is watching to see if they can know we are Christians by our love. As long as the headlines tell of our disputes and judgments, we are enemies of the cross, a laughingstock and not sharers of the gospel.
The gospel should be evangelical, offensive, loving, self-sacrificing and compassionate. When it becomes defensive, judgmental, political and full of fear, it is no longer salt and light. If we take to heart James 1:19 — “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry” — we would be much better evangelicals. We are the only Bible most people ever read. Are they reading gloom and doom or good news?
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