Long Time Coming

You should be warned that this blog post is about to open with a disclaimer, so run away quickly if this frightens you nearly as much as it does me.

 As promised, my disclaimer is this: I typically avoid any and all touchy subjects, and I am more likely to run over my own foot with my car than make a public opinion on a controversial topic. I am definitely more inclined to share my opinion face-to-face {so as to ensure full understanding of my meaning}, but this particular subject has been weighing on my heart for a couple days now. ever since I read these verses:
"I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another,  'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Now, I know you might be thinking what on earth this has to do with the price of rice in China, but hear me out. I'm not gonna go into detail {because that could take years}, but let's just say that Calvinism and I have had a very rocky relationship. I watched my dear friend, John Calvin, rip a church apart at the seams, chew up the people, and spit them back out {great visual, right?}. From the time I first heard his name, it just never set well with me. Okay, let's hold up a second and go ahead and get something out of the way. This post is in no way going to delve into the theology and philosophical stylings of any man other than Jesus, so feel free to take a deep breath if you were getting ready to drill me with your opinion on the matter.

Here's my opinion:
John Calvin is a man; therefore, I will never {EVER} use his name as a label for myself. The only name I will proclaim and represent is that of Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for our sins in order to bring salvation to the world. Did John Calvin save anyone from the fiery pits of hell? I didn't think so. I understand people's desire to study theology and have a strong sense of what they believe in, BUT I am totally opposed to the creation of {what has probably become} the largest division in our faith. It is so unbelievably frustrating to me that people have allowed themselves to be placed in a category based on the names of two men who were born ordinary and died ordinary men. This is an age old problem. Even back in the good ole days, Paul was having to address the people about divisions among them. The people were labeling themselves as followers of Cephas or Apollos or Paul. Needless to say, Paul was disgusted {well, at least I would be}.

Let me ask you this: Is Christ divided? NO. Absolutely not. The Bible tells us over and over again that we are the body of Christ which has many parts but all works together in unison. We are to be united. As I watched my church fall to pieces and people leaving left and right, I became angry and bitter. I pretended for about a year that I was over it. That it didn't hurt me. That I didn't care. But it did hurt me. I did care. For quite a while when I was alone in Columbus, I stopped going to church altogether. Of course, I put on a good show. No one could tell the difference. No one here knew or cared if I went to church on Sunday morning. No matter how many different churches I went to, all I could see was that the very people who I had trusted and loved had turned their back on me. It doesn't matter to me if I was wrong or right, but what does matter is that the moment it created a division in the body of Christ, it was no longer of Christ.

Although I have finally moved away from that anger and bitterness that had overtaken my heart all those years ago, I have still been harboring unforgiveness in my heart for some of the people who hurt me the most. I'll never understand the decision they made to allow this to come between us, but I also know that it all got me to the place I am today. A very good place. A place where I can firmly and boldly proclaim these words: I am a follower of Jesus Christ not John Calvin or Jacobus Arminius. These names mean nothing to me, and although I fully intend to study every word of every verse of every chapter of every book of the Word of God until the day I die, I am only human just as you are. If we understood everything, we would be God. And SHOCKER: We aren't God. In v.17, our obligation and privilege is to preach the Gospel. NOT with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

In some ways, this post represents my release of this struggle and hurt. I have now been blessed with two church families where I have been refreshed and renewed by my time there. There will always be a special place in my heart for my church "home" all those years ago, and I know that God is continuing to do a good work there with those who remain. I hate to see God's children divided between two earthly men who held no power other than maybe the power of words. Throughout mine and Calvinism's rocky relationship, I have experienced a wide range of emotions {none of which were typically positive}, but ultimately, I am thankful for the fact that it has driven me deeper into the Word of God. The deeper I go, the more adamant I am to label myself as only one thing. a Jesus Follower.

Learning to be the Light,