Uh oh, two blogs in a week? Does that mean I’m…back?
I had an interesting discussion with a brother of my church about the use of “brother” as a designation for an authority figure in the church. If James Howell is a leader with an office in the church he should be designated as “brother James” or “brother Howell.” The well meaning, goodhearted brother simply sees this as a means of showing respect, the same as saying, “Yes, sir,” or, “Yes, m’am,” in the Southern vernacular. I have argued in a previous post that this is not a good idea and the dangers that are present in this small symbol of “respect” are very, very real.
Oh, come on, Will…its such a small thing, why not as one sister put, “just do it if it makes them feel better about the situation?”
I am not writing about this debate; that would be pointless. What I am writing about is our tendency to make small, harmless concessions (without thinking) that lead to much bigger problems. Dictators aren’t forged in a day; 6,000,000 Jews are not exterminated overnight. Yes, these are extreme hyperbole but they illustrate the point: larger nightmares always start with innocent dreams.
Am I am saying it is wrong to compromise? Of course not; I believe in balance and moderation as a guiding philosophy (I do not believe this to be just pragmatic but also biblical). However, I believe in a thought out compromise that carefully weights the implications of ones actions against the desired outcome. Yes, many people will think things through, but their followers tend not to be so careful (ask John Calvin). Compromise must be built upon a careful examination of evidence, prayer, and the consideration of the church as a whole.
Is changing someone’s designation to suit their church office going to garner respect? Probably not, because the issue of disrespect is deeper than just one’s title. Plus, do we really want to set it up to where our children respect the office rather than the character of a man? This is not the secular world where position counts, this is the church where what matters is one’s pursuit of Jesus Christ in the presence of others to the glory of God. I want my children to respect a man’s walk in the church, not his position…the church is no place for power struggles.
Again, this issue is just an example of compromises we make for good intentions, but while God does see our hearts, history sees our actions and the whole world is watching to see what the followers of Jesus Christ actually do with message they profess to believe. Some things are simply bigger than us and we mess with them at our own peril.
Yes, nothing may happen; I may just be warning about potentialities and not probabilities, but the fact remains that I have seen this happen…over and over again. When we decide that our goals and traditions are more important or even on level with Scripture, we are headed for disaster…it may not happen today, tomorrow, or for twenty years…but mark my words it will happen.
I have seen it too many times to think otherwise.
Grace and Peace