Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet

I’m the next link in a “chain of blogs” on the issue of divisiveness. Boy, do I know divisiveness. I created it.

Two years ago, I caused a church to hurt because as the pastor, I committed adultery. I created great harm and pain to many people, including my ex-wife, several deacons, an array of church members, family members, pastor friends, and many in the community. Heck, read my last blog post and you’ll find that the pain hasn’t been resolved for some.

I was reading Alan Knox’s blog post on divisiveness and what people really wanted to read about. People want to know how to deal practically with divisive issues. That sells. When you go to your local bookstore, you want results. You have a problem, you want instant results. You want it solved. Now. You bought the dang book, so you want solutions. I hear you, blogosphere.

I was reflecting on my fall from ministry this evening after reading what some former church members had written recently about me on Facebook. It wasn’t kind. They don’t even know I have access to it. I had a friend tell me recently that I really just need to suck it up because it was my sin that causes them to feel that way. He’s right. I caused their divisiveness, their anger.

But I also got to thinking about those specific people who have been lashing out at me since I fell. A lot of them never really liked me. Seriously. The ones who still harbor anger and hatred – they harbored anger and hatred while I was pastoring eight years ago. Funny thing is, I would love them, console them in times of need, go out of my way to pray for them, help them, “grease the sqeaky wheel” and it never really helped. They never would like me.

I can hear you saying, “well, you’re an adulterous, fallen pastor.” Yeah. But I know several ministers who did great at their churches who went down the same road. They spent a lot of time with the complainers and they never got anywhere.

Now, let’s think about the people who were “good.” I hate that word. None of us are really “good” but that’s a theological discussion that would cause divisiveness. Anyway, you know what I mean. There were people there who were kind to me, loving, supportive. After I fell, they were disappointed, upset and the like. It took a little time, but after a while, they showed me a little bit of grace. Guess what? They were still the same. My sin didn’t change them. They were still the same people.

What’s my point? As Arthur Sido said, yes, we must have love as the foundation for everything. As Jeremy Myers said, we are often the problem. As Jon Hutton said, we do need unity. As Andy Witt has clearly stated, our division has come from separation from God. Finally, as Bobby Auner has mathematically stated, Christians have been given the Great Commission to overcome divisiveness to multiply.

These men are all correct. However, we’re all dealing with the human element. Every person in our churches is an individual who, due to the fall, presumes the world revolves around them. Don’t agree? Try to change  the carpet color in your church. I’m not even trying to argue Calvinism vs. Arminianism here. Just change the carpet color. You know the routine. You’ll have a battle to rival Gettysburg. Why? Because we’re human. Because our stupid, human passions get the best of us. Because carpet color for some reason is more important than the Great Commission.

We have got to break through that. How? By walking in the Spirit. It starts with our leaders. And it’s hard when leaders like me fall. It’s hard when statistics tell us that 80% of our pastors are burned out. When 1,500 pastors a month leave the ministry due to moral failure, burnout, or conflict with church leadership.

I long for a day when we can return to the church of Acts 2: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Why not now? Because we, I, all of us are broken people. We are in desperate need of selfless love for Christ’s church. We’re discussing divisiveness because we are divided. Across borders, lines, squabbles and things that don’t matter. The early church had one focus. And it was not within. It was without.

Practical advice? Patience with one another’s faults. Love each other like you would want to be loved. That should sound very familiar. Whether it’s over carpet color or musical differences. If we can’t accept other Christians, we’re in serious trouble.

It’s like this. I’ve sinned horribly in my adultery, but God has forgiven me. Other Christians haven’t. But I tell myself, they may not forgive me now, but they’re gonna have to live with me in eternity, so they’d better get used to it sometime.

Friends, it’s the same way here. I see fellow Christians tear each other up online over the silliest things in the angriest manner possible. There’s just no reason for it. We do it out of pride. We have two options. We can keep on with our anger or begin to adapt an Acts 2 attitude. It begins in our own church – ugly carpet and all.

__________________________________________

Chain blog rules:

1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.

3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

__________________________

“Links” in this chain blog:

1. “Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction” by Alan
2. “Chain Blog: Dealing with divisive issues starts with love” by Arthur
3. “I am divisive” by Jeremy
4. “Chain Blog: Please agree with me” by Jon
5. “Division and our shared humanity” by Andy
6. “Chain Blog: solving the problem” by Bobby
7. “Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet” by Ray
8. Who will write the next “link” post in the chain?

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About fallenpastor
I am a former Southern Baptist pastor who was removed from his church for breaking the seventh commandment. I once blogged under the pseudonym Arthur Dimmesdale. I am author of the book, "Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World," from Civitas Press. I have written an essay in a book entitled, "The Practice of Love: Real Stories Of Living Into The Kingdom of God." I have a beautiful wife, Allison, and three wonderful daughters. I am originally from Russellville, Arkansas and am a huge Razorback fan.

18 Responses to Divisiveness: Acts 2 & Ugly Carpet

  1. Alan Knox says:

    This is definitely some great practical advice! It’s also a great addition to the chain blog. Would you mind adding the “chain blog rules” to the post so that your readers know how they can take part in the chain blog too?

    Thanks!

    -Alan

  2. Pingback: Chain Blog: Dealing with Divisive Issues Introduction | The Assembling of the Church

  3. Cindy Holman says:

    You are right on – especially about the carpet color. We almost had a church split over the color the church was going to be painted – and people who actually threatened to leave if it was NOT painted white. Unbelievable. Grow up people!! You are also right about people before, during and after great hurts and set-backs – if they are angry and negative during most things in life – your or my sin will just be another reason for them to be angry and say, “I told you so” – but if they are humble, gracious people who understand that everyone sins and falls short of the mark – they are sad – but the first to forgive. I’ve found this to be true in my own life – and have trouble with those who do not live like this. It takes much more energy to hold on to that kind of negative energy – I simply don’t want to work that hard!

    • fallenpastor says:

      Cindy, you are correct. It’s so weird. But people are people. Strange thing is, we’ll all find things we’ll draw the line in the sand over. Stupid things. If we wait around long enough, we’ll all get mad over some moronic, festering, idiotic thing that we’d be willing to split the church over.

  4. Pingback: Seven Posts in the Chain Blog So Far! (Dealing with Divisiveness) | The Assembling of the Church

  5. Jeremy Myers says:

    I have had the similar fight over carpet color. And serving coffee in the foyer. And what should go in the bulletin. Etc.

    We really do make it all about us, when it shouldn’t be.

    • fallenpastor says:

      Oh yeah, Jeremy. Those are all very important things. I’m sure the disciples were sitting around saying, “French Vanilla or Cuban Roast?” And then another said, “Coffee is demonic!”

      We’ve narrowed the church down to such a new fundamentalism that we’ve forgotten our calling. Sad.

  6. Pingback: I Am Divisive | Till He Comes

  7. Trista says:

    Thank you for your willingness to explore our dividedness by placing your own journey in plain sight. That takes both chutzpa and humility. The reality is that none of us is perfect; we’re all works in progress.

    I haven’t met a pastor yet (whether in a current call, in seminary training to become a minister, or working in another field for one reason or another) that isn’t “fallen”. I also have not yet been a part of a church family that doesn’t argue over stupid details like carpet color, floral arrangements, or praise band placement. We have forgotten who we are.

    I’ll add the next link to the chain this afternoon, and let y’all know when it’s up.

    ~ Trista

  8. Pingback: No, we can’t just get along | The Assembling of the Church

  9. Alan Knox says:

    I’ve published the 9th link post in the chain blog here: “No, we can’t just get along.”

    -Alan

  10. Pingback: Chain Blog: Don’t talk about my Momma! « pastorjro

  11. Tammy Carter says:

    wow! I’m so glad I ran across this chain! Great words…great advice…I need to read this every day! God bless!

  12. Jason says:

    I’m SO glad I found this!!! I’m a new Pastor, in Arkansas {Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie!}! My congregation has just purchased a new facility, our other one was TINY. Now everyone is bursting with ideas, however not everyone is agreeing and now tempers are being lit. I’m frustrated and tired. But I press on because HE is my focus, not the ones that are never satisfied! Thank you for your advice as well as your honesty! I recently finished a sermon series on love … perhaps we should revisit a few of those.

    Jason

    • fallenpastor says:

      Jason,

      Thanks for commenting. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Great to have a fellow Razorback on here.

      I understand the frustration. Good reflection on the struggle you’re going through. It’s hard to remember to focus on what’s important when stupid stuff gets in our way. Thanks for the comment.

      Ray

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