Have you ever noticed that, when you first identify with a new group and adopt its beliefs and tenets as your own, the members of that group commend you for your wisdom and discernment? Later, when your experience and careful consideration lead you to change your mind about one or more elements of the group’s shared beliefs, you are regarded as having somehow lost your ability to be wise and discerning. Instead, you have apparently succumbed to influences that have led you into error.
Or, as a friend of mine put it, “I was a prophet right up to the moment I became a heretic.”
I began turning in a new direction, both theologically and politically, that day, about ten years ago, when, for the first time, I came to believe that the gospel of the kingdom is primarily focused on the needs of others. That conviction has only intensified over the years.
Today I measure every policy, every perspective, every political position and biblical interpretation against a threefold standard:
1) Does it honor God?
2) Does it reflect the character of Jesus and the values of the kingdom?
3) Does it put the needs and concerns of others, especially the powerless and the disenfranchised, above my personal interests and material comforts?
The faith I am coming to embrace is
Less theology, more doxology.
Less exposition, more experience.
Less theoretical speculation, more practical application.
Less indignation, more compassion.
Less judgment, more love.
Less concern about the hereafter, more involvement in the present.
Less rigid ideology, more faithful flexibility.
Perhaps not less Christ, but certainly more Jesus.
God enabling me, those will be the guiding and energizing principles for my ministry, whatever form it takes, for the remainder of my life.