Today, I was reminded why I love being part of the Brethren in Christ (BIC) church. I was in Oakville at the BIC Leadership Development Day, one of our regular gatherings of BIC leaders and pastors.
We spent the day discussing two difficult theological issues: the historic peace position and our position on sexuality, specifically homosexuality. Both of these issues have many practical dilemmas for pastors and church leaders. As a result different views were expressed around our discussion tables and in the question and answer time that followed the teaching sessions. Yet, the expression of those differences of opinion reminded me of why I love the BIC.
I love the BIC because today we were willing to take on some tough issues. The easy answer on these topics would be to conform to the majority of opinion and avoid the tensions that go with being a peace church (clearly a minority position among Christian churches) and a church that affirms marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman (clearly a minority position within our culture).
But we are not shrinking away from these issues. Instead, we are here debating the importance of each of these theological positions from an anabaptist perspective. Why? Because we are committed to Jesus and following Him, both the easier parts and also the truly hard parts. It would be tempting and easy to simply change our position on these provocative issues and conform to the expectations of broader forces. But we are unwilling to read the scripture in a certain way to be more popular or to avoid tension. Instead, we have been examining the scripture and we have been challenged to commit ourselves and our churches to be fully committed to Jesus’ ethic on marriage, sexuality and peace. This commitment to Jesus, and His teaching, and His authority over the church is what makes me love the BIC.
There is another reason I love the BIC. Our discussions never felt like a room full of erudite theologians discussing philosophical concepts as if they were without implication. Quite the opposite. Throughout the day, our conversations were theologically-driven but our questions and concerns always returned to our passion and love for the people we serve and those we hope to reach.
Ron Sider summarized the tension we all felt throughout the day when he said, we must seek “love and truth and fidelity” in the midst of the painful realities of modern living. Doug Sider Jr added, we must maintain “the simplicity of courage to follow Christ.” Today, I was reminded of how good it is to be BIC.
Amen to that.There were so many impassioned voices, but there was also a sense of caring and respect that seemed to both underlay and blanket the (very large) room. How could we attribute that to anything but the astonishing work of the Holy Spirit? I personally experienced an unusual feeling of humility and joy–listening to and being a part of discussions infused (all at once) with emotion, high stakes, understanding, grace, and a desire to both know truth and follow Christ…
Well put Todd. There was an amazing spirit of unity without losing the longing we have to discover what God’s truth is for today. And as we left the building, some may still have been unsure where they land, but most were very certain about what family they are a part of. A win for us all.