I have homegroup every Wednesday night. Lately I've had to drag myself there. Last night was one of those nights. I really didn't want to go. When this happens, I try to stop and ask myself, "Okay! What's the real issue here?
" I love the people. That's not the issue. I enjoy being with them. I don't mind the time involved. Part of my job. I went deeper and got in touch with something I was feeling deep in my gut: I felt the pressure to referee competing and even conflicting theologies. Ah! That's it. You see, I have a diverse mixture of people who come to the group, whether there are just three of us or twelve or more. Some who come are very conservative in their beliefs and lifestyles. And there are some at the opposite end of the spectrum: very liberal in their beliefs and lifestyles. Sometimes I feel the pressure from people to be the wise guru who will give the proper answer and solve the dilemma. Naturally, people want their pastor to affirm and strengthen their already preciously held beliefs. That veiled pressure was what was bothering me.
Once I discerned this, I felt some relief. I realize my job isn't to answer their questions or to solve their riddles or to remedy their problems, even though this might be what the people think they need. For instance, there are some in the group who think that in order to be a Christian you have to be a Creationist. Others in the group are blatantly Evolutionists while being Christians. Then there are others in between. I can't solve that problem. I could wax eloquent about how the story of Genesis is an extended metaphor about how God created ex nihilo
, but that doesn't necessarily negate science's contributions to the theory of evolution... blah blah blah... But this kind of explanation is usually meaningless to both sides. We don't change our minds like that. It is usually intellectual trauma that forces change, and it usually ain't pretty. Which is why we resist such change.
No. My job is to provide a safe context in which people feel free to believe what they believe and still be loved, accepted and even respected in spite of it. What I am interested in is how people of diverse opinion and theologies and lives can dwell together and commit to each other in compassion and peace, and even support one another. It is within that context of freedom that people may grow and feel free to change their minds if they want to. I am to make space for people to be free to undergo personal transformation. Now, that's what makes my Wednesday evenings so much more interesting and important.