Rustlings (May 11, 2015)

This past Sunday, the vast majority of our congregation stood to affirm the consensus statement that had been shaped by the discernment process and affirmed by the Diaconate. Others in our congregation stood because they did not feel they could affirm the statement. Even when we disagree, we stand together.

I’ve never known a married couple, business partners or even the best of friends who agreed upon everything. In our work life, home life and social life, we live and work and play and enjoy relationships with people who differ from us. Why should the church be any different? Why, in many churches, do our doctrinal differences become severe lines of demarcation? I’m glad that’s not so at First Baptist Greenville. We acknowledge our diversity, and we refuse to discriminate. That is a true witness to the world of the power and breadth of the gospel. They will know we are Christians – not by our adherence to a particular set of doctrinal beliefs – but by the love we have for one another. We love each other.

Moving forward, be accurate in your sharing of the consensus statement. We made no decision regarding the issue of homosexuality – members hold different convictions. We did make a statement on what it means to be church – diverse and respectful of God’s unique work in the life of every member, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. And be gentle. The intensity of these discussions, the vulnerability offered by every member and the fears set aside for the sake of fellowship have left tender spots. Be kind to one another… See you Sunday.

Jim