About 18 years ago, a well-respected elder among us stood in his church’s pulpit and apologized for the way he had been teaching some things, and the expectations he had laid on his saints. He took a long time that night to explain clear, biblical teaching on things like facial hair, pants-length, entertainment, etc.
I remember hearing the news of this and being heart-broken… so shocked that what had been long-held understandings among us were being “let down”. What I saw from a distance was frightening to me, because I was among those who strongly felt the way they did before his message. I thought they were going “Charismatic”, whatever that was.
It was after a few years of observance that I realized this church hadn’t crossed any line biblically. They hadn’t started teaching crazy doctrines, or let down Bible demarcations of separation. They had just begun being honest about what the Bible said, and how to apply it in our culture.
This pastor is still very respected among us, and has authored many books that bless the fellowship. His church has sent out missionaries both foreign and domestic, and their church is a revival hub.
His approach to scripture, standards and discipleship is refreshing and honest, both to God and men. He didn’t leave the Truth, and didn’t steer the ship in a polar-opposite direction like some others have. He just did the right thing.
I understand how strong tradition can be. I understand how delicate it needs to be dealt with in order not to destroy the faith of those who have lived with it. But I believe with prayer, care, and wisdom, we can be honest about some things that perhaps fear, peer pressure, and embarrassment have kept us from.
If you know me at all, you would know I am biblically conservative, and respectful of others. I care about how my ministry is perceived, but more concerned about how God evaluates the way I divide his word and disciple his people.
I pray for the day when we can stop shaming others openly or around restaurant tables for offending our sensibilities of tradition and, in some cases, our ignorance.