Grace and Sin in the pursuit of Christian Uniformity

Let me first begin by admitting that what follows is purely from my own mind, in the sense that this is a reflection and attempt to express an explanation for the inner workings of my own mental processes on the topic at hand. While there may be literature on the topic I am not intentionally referring or pulling from any of it and I cannot name any particular source from which these thoughts come except my own mind.

As someone who has routinely experienced the feeling of what I will be calling “outsiderness” for one reason or another throughout my life, I have found that when I am at odds with the image of my congregation, or the body of believers which I consider myself a part of, in either intellectual position on matters of faith, or tradition of liturgy, or any number of things. It is exceptionally easy for me to be harsh with them and my mind at times may categorize those differences as Sins, supposing that the position I have is the one which reflects the character of God, while this can be true in matters of theology, there is still danger here when we step away from the question of individual outsiderness and begin contemplating the impact of corporate insiderness.

I think much of the church hurt dilemma may be the result of a root issue within the church, one which has existed for a long time. This issue is best captured by the word uniformity, I think that the American church has become so used to looking a particular way that anything which compromises that is attacked. It’s hard to pin everything down but I think what follows paints a decently accurate picture.

Which sins are we the most and least tolerant of?

Most people when pressed are going to treat sins they commit everyday less harshly than those they can never conceive of themselves committing. The end result of this difference which routinely only exists in the treatment of individuals, is that anyone whose sins compromise the image of a given body of believers as being a certain “type” of ministry is pushed or admonished whether justly or unjustly until either compliance is achieved or the individual(s) responsible leaves.

A ministry which enjoys being seen as a place of compassion will likely react harshly to someone who is abrasive and bold in calling out the sins in the body of the Church as issues which need to be addressed.

The ministry which enjoys being seen as a place of truth will likely scoff at attempts to be authentically empathetic with people who are struggling to understand why their sin is a sin, or better put why something that is against scripture is a negative thing for them.

I think that often times reformed evangelicals tend to run toward that second archetype and seeker sensitive churches tend to refrain towards the first type.

But the problem with both of these extremes is that they often lead to a further neglect of the other archetype.

I don’t necessarily have answers, but these are some ponderings based on my experiences.

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