Gut shot

There are moments in church history, and in our own church experience, when divisions occur over doctrinal issues. However, our churches, our marriages, and our lives are threatened more by a failure to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit.

…In more conservative churches, love, joy, peace, and patience may be thwarted by a censorious temperament that’s always posed to pounce. And faithfulness may be avoided by a refusal to accept necessary reforms in the light of God’s Word. It is all too easy to assert our own list of orthodoxies and rules as “something more” than what God has revealed in his Word. It is easier to alienate than to teach with humility and love. We too quickly write people off, in contrast to the Good Shepherd, who does not break off a bruised reed or quench a faintly burning candle. Epithets of “fundamentalist” and “liberal” ricochet around us in reckless shots.

In either case, we are not finding our common source in the gospel, nor do we restrict the expectations of Christ’s way of life to what is actually commanded in Scripture. Instead, we invent our own ideals of “missional living” and “radical discipleship” or our own list of doctrinal essentials and then impose them on God’s people as necessary for faith and life. As a result, the mature qualities of gentleness and self-control become subordinate, at least in practice, to the sort of visceral and often ill-formed judgements that we once associated with adolescence.

-Michael Horton, Ordinary