In the 12 years or so that I've been doing this blog, I've noticed people swing all over the place. Some folks who were staunchly in one camp are now over in another. Some who were mild are not hot. This isn't just a religious observation - politically, we are going more and more to the extremes.
Theologically, this is a bad thing, especially for Lutherans. We are the lonely way, threading the theological needle between often opposing, lousy ideas. We are neither Calvinist nor Decision theologians - we are neither Roman nor Protestant. Reformed, but not Radically so. Keeps traditions but not worshiping them.
This all requires balance.
The problem is this - we all shuffled off away from that nice balanced center of Christ on occasion. We all end up tossing out our own ideas rather than the clear words of Scripture. So what is needed then? We need to be pulled back - a friend, a colleague reaches that hand out and pulls us back into the middle.
That's gentle. Quiet. Simple.
We do not live in gentle, quiet times. Our simple goal today to is show how we are right and they are WRONG. And so, we push.
Consider the past decade or so. Think about the discussions you've seen. See if this theory doesn't play out. How often has someone been slightly messed up on something - and then they get hammered - get "pushed". They are declared wretched... and then there's no where for them to go but more and more extreme.
I think it happens quite often.
"But what about doctrinal purity? What about the truth?" Yes, the truth is important - but the point is to center people upon Christ Jesus the Truth, not see how quickly we can kick them off the island to prove how right we are. I've done it too.
I think for us amongst the relatively conservative Christian crowd, some of this is because toleration became such a dirty word. The left kept clamoring for tolerance, and that "tolerance" became more and more demanding and now tyrannical. Therefore, we determined we would tolerate less and less.
But in so doing I think we may have jettisoned patience. Long-suffering. Bearing with one another. Tolerance and acceptance are not our ideals, but patience and kindness are fruits of the Spirit. Pulling fruits. Restoring fruits.
Go be kind to someone. Especially if they are wrong. That is what Christ Jesus did for you. He did not seek to push you away - He did not come to condemn the world. Rather, He pulled all its sin upon itself and crucified it. He saved us.
Pull, don't push.