Of Acceptance, Tolerance, and Drinking Goat’s Blood Out of a Beer Hat

I read a blog post this morning that included the following nugget:

“I get a little leary of people who say, “Yeah I was attending this church but the pastor said this one thing, so I left.”  I mean really?  Based on one thing?  I can understand if the pastor peed on the Bible or bled out a goat on stage and drank it through a beer hat, but come on: some honesty, please.

People leave their church for all kinds of petty reasons.  There can definitely be a legit reason to leave, but part of attending a church is to persevere in collision with God’s people you would normally never hang out with to become a well-rounded individual who embraces diversity.  If people are hopping from church to church at the slightest rub of preference, well: that’s not a happy person.”

(…yeah, that’s my good friend J.S. Park from The Way Everlasting!)

Now if the only thing you got out of that was “bled out a goat and drank it through a beer hat” I can understand . . . that’s the kinda crowd I run with, hehe!  However, what I HOPE came across was the whole “persevere in collision with God’s people” part.

You see, we’re not just being ‘fed’ every Sunday.  As Christ followers we’re ‘feeding’ into someone as well, intentionally or not, by our actions and words.  When you say, “Yeah I was attending this church but the pastor said this one thing, so I left”, that reflects equally on YOUR standards as much as the pastor’s.  And if you’re surrounded by people that hear this type of thing and go, “Yeah!  Yeah, I’da done the same thing! You’re right!  That pastor’s a putz!”, you need to expand your societal horizons a bit.

The fact is, you need to seek out that one guy who has the chutzpah to say, “Wait a minute.  That pastor kinda has a point.”  Then you get mad at each other.  Then you don’t talk for a couple hours.  Or a couple days.  Then you finally consent enough to get together for coffee in a very public place . . . ya know, just in case.  Then you begin to actually TALK to each other.  Then you realize you’re not as far separated in ideology as you’d first suspected and maybe, just maybe, that pastor wasn’t such a putz to begin with and maybe, just maybe, he DID have a point.

The funny thing about all that is: That’s not tolerance.  That’s not acceptance.  That’s called growth.  In fact, you may NOT totally agree.   You may NOT totally accept.  That’s really not the point.

The point is, at least you SEE the other side from deep within your own entrenchment.  You might even see it’s not the barren, hellhole landscape you always thought it was . . . or should have been.  You may never venture over there, and no one is asking you to.  But the least you can do is to take out your mental camera, snap a picture, stick it in your memory book and haul it out every once in a while to remember that there ARE other views and vistas in the world and though you’re very welcome to have your own . . . it’s not, never has been, and never will be, the only one.

We’re all on this journey together.  But it’s not all the same journey.

Nobody ever said it should be.


5 thoughts on “Of Acceptance, Tolerance, and Drinking Goat’s Blood Out of a Beer Hat”

  1. I think all of us have heard of people who leave their churches because they are offended by something someone said or did. The big question in these cases for me is this: Am I converted to the pastor or am I converted to Jesus Christ? Am I attending church to worship God or to contemplate the weaknesses of my neighbor in the pew in front of me? And—I think sometimes people are just looking for an excuse not to attend church anymore.

  2. Yes, all true. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in our decisions, not our gut reactions. But there is another side to the story.

    Many pastors are big on hanging with the body regardless, but this rings a little hollow if they are “presidential” style pastors who make all the decisions and expect people to hang with them. The kingdom of God is not a democracy, but discerning the Spirit is a collective thing in the New Testament. If a pastor wants people to hang in, he (or in the rare case, she) should be encouraging shared leadership, decision-making and the use of spiritual gifts.

    I think the lack of collective discernment of the Spirit and collective use of gifts is a bigger blight on the western church than is people leaving churches.

  3. @Maryann: My wife has often said, “I don’t follow a pastor, I don’t follow church, I follow Christ. If it’s Christ that wants me in such-and-such church that’s where I will attend until I’m asked to move elsewhere. It was very Spirit-led how we ended up at both Lake City CC, and currently at RLM. Yet, as you allude, we’re not following Jim Putman, in fact I don’t always agree with his take on issues, but even those disagreements ultimately lead to growth if you allow them to.

    @UnkleE: “I think the lack of collective discernment of the Spirit and collective use of gifts is a bigger blight on the western church than is people leaving churches.”

    Good points, and while reading I’m not sure if the first thoughts I had are in agreement or possibly turning your comments a little side-ways when I think (yet again) of the opening sentence of Rick Warren’s book where he writes, “It’s not about you.”

    We live in such a consumer-driven culture. The moment we’re able to break free of that mindset, the gospel becomes infinitely easier to understand. I think that was kind of the point J.S. intended with this post ~ If you don’t agree, or feel a change needs to take place, make sure its of the Holy Spirit’s prompting, not your own knee-jerk reaction, and put your God-given gifts to work to instill that change.

    Just because your church doesn’t do “that” kind of ministry, doesn’t mean you can’t be a person that does that type of ministry within the framework of your church.

Talk to me, even if you disagree! I'd love to hear your comments!

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