If you recall the 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood being determined to save the orphanage where they grew up, peppered their hijinxs with “we’re on a mission for God”. They remained undaunted by all the obstacles in their way, they were to achieve their mission at all costs.
It occurs to me that Christians adopt this mentality, also. Now, I don’t mean just mean being determined to live a good Christian life, follow Jesus and be obedient to his will. But it’s finding this one particular aspect of dogma that turns into a crusade.
I was reminded of that recently after a conversation with a friend about a topic that I’m a bit passionate about – God speaking. He was telling me of this conversation with a young lady who gave little interest in the Bible, exclaiming that the Holy Spirit can just tell her what she needs to know. Anyone who knows my passion for this topic, can imagine all the sirens that were going off in my head. It fueled that already existing desire to help people be thoughtful about how God has already spoken which is compatible to how he has revealed himself. I am convinced that the main reason the Bible is treated as a secondary means of communication is because it has been treated in a very fragmented way that provides little snippets for life principles and a guide to hear more words from God instead of being the very voice of God. The 66 books must be considered holistically for the redemptive narrative that it is.
It is precisely this desire that reminds me of Christians that I’ve encountered that become so fixated on a particular area, where passion for the dispensing of knowledge has turned into a crusade. I know first hand that it’s a pretty easy line to cross, if we are not careful. It’s usually accompanied by some kind of warning or danger that the church needs to know, whether it be a particular leader or ministry, some point of doctrine or Christian practice.
But I have discovered that an obsession with one particular aspect of Christian teaching (or what we may believe is Christian teaching) can end up being so focused on correction that the bigger mission gets lost, to make Christ known, to exalt him and proclaim his marvelous work on our behalf, to make disciples, for the church to grow together in love. It’s pretty hard to embrace this forest, when you’re too busy fighting with the trees.
The internet is populated with such soapbox orators who fancy themselves to be the gift that the church needs. You can tell where there is “tree obsession”. Look how fast they swoop down on that topic they are fighting against. Of course, this is not relegated to the internet. There are plenty of “pastors” and others bent on some pet agenda to show how x, y or z is wrong and hold their congregation hostage to their crusade. Tragic.
I’m going to suggest that being bent on this type of “mission from God” is not only a collossial waste of time, but it serves the church no purpose. Sure, there is nothing wrong with having areas of interest or fields of specialties, especially for those who have gone through formal education and/or teach in such a setting. Thank God we have a wealth of resources at our disposal because of this. But it is something entirely different to engage in a crusade as some kind of self-appointed prophet righting wrongs. We don’t need crusaders. We need Christians who seek to love the Lord and neighbor, who look to exalt Christ and exhort his body and proclaim his testimony.
There is much truth in what you say here Lisa. One note Johnnys say much more about themselves than they do others.
A friendly word of caution though. One’s personal interactions with somebody may not tell the whole story and may lead to drawing incomplete and faulty conclusions. I have myself been accused of “obsession” with certain issues and have even been banned and blocked by some. (I know you find that very hard to believe 😀 )
A bit of looking around however reveals that:
“HEY, this thing I accused this man of being obsessed with is only one in a long LIST of things he’s passionate about. In fact I’m finding that over time this issue isn’t even close to the one he talks about most. There really ISN’T one he talks about most actually. This was just the one he talked to ME about most”
You see my point? As a principle this piece is right one. It’s proper application might require more effort than it may at first appear though.
Congratulations on your degree btw!!! I know you worked hard for it.
This is based on observation of a number of sites and people not just one person. I also know that tendency in myself, which is why I leveraged my own interaction. Degree deferred for a few months but thanks for the congrats anyway.
Well that’s certainly fair enough. I must be honest though. I have not noticed this tendency very prominently in you. I will be honest a bit further. I find it most often displayed by theological liberals and the further leff the more pronounced it is.
I won’t link to them, but right off the top of my head I can think of blog sites of individuals that are almost entirely given over to one single issue. For years.
Feminism/egalitarianism, homosexuality and theistic evolution come immediately to mind. To be sure this works somewhat in the other direction as well. Some hyper-fundamentalists that seem hung up on one issue. However they are considered far further fringe right by traditionalists, than the far leftists are considered to be left by the liberals. In other words, liberals embrace their fringe while conservatives are more apt to call the right wing fringe, “fringe”.
I hope all that made sense.