Guest blogger – Bill Lewis (apostolic leader, Ohio)
Racism, Nazism, nationalism, globalism, etc., etc. We are awash in “isms.” You walk down the aisle of life and you can choose from hundreds of “isms.” They are those flavors that distinguish you from all the rest of the people. You can become a part of a particular herd and find an identity. Now, your identity chosen will put you in conflict with other “isms.” You get to call them names and extremists and they will return the favor. Lines of protest and war can be formed from the “isms” of choice. You can also join more than one “ism” as long as they are not at strong odds.
We are divided by our “isms.” Conservatism and liberalism are blatantly at war right now. Supposedly each is trying to save our country while they are actively tearing it apart. There seems to be no sanity available for either side. Vilification of each other is far more important than finding commonality. The ancient art of finding middle ground is lost to the all or nothing approach of the hour.
“Isms” infect the church world as well. We have fundamentalism, pentecostalism, Calvinism, Arminianism, liberalism, legalism, to name a few. We gather in our “ism” of choice and hunker down to survive. Often we rail about the other “isms” and extol how great our “ism” is. We all have done it.
But note this, there is no “gospelism.” There is no “Jesusism.” There is no “Christianism.” Sorry for the forced misspelling to make a point. Somehow Jesus was able to present his message, draw the world to him, and not form an “ism.” His life and message is so pure and challenging that you cannot form a schism “ism.” The simple message of Jesus gets lost when we form camps of thought that exclude each other who profess Christ, but more importantly, we build walls that exclude the lost from finding the path to Jesus. “Isms” make the message of Christ narrow and defined by our prejudices. The simple message of grace is lost in the prerequisites of our “ism.”
The world sells a ton of various “isms.” However, the church should do as much as possible to avoid and tear down “isms.” The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Coming to Christ is the great liberation and is offered through faith. It is not a gauntlet of conditions. It is not a ten step program or a flurry of initiations like a fraternity pledge.
The hymn is “Just as I am, without one plea.” It is not “Just as we want you.” There is an acceptance that is going to look strangely varied as people come to Christ. They will be dragging baggage of a broken life, baggage of a former culture, and the baggage of a current situation that is difficult.
The challenge of the faithful is to avoid the “isms” that are so easy to create. Will the lost, the seeker, the broken, the addict, the fringe kids, find a place of acceptance and refuge or the narrow “ism” that you are comfortable with. If it is your “ism:” you will never see them again.
The days of telling people they are of devil for having a tattoo are gone. Telling a young woman to cover her arm in order to serve in church is ridiculous. Being offended by piercings is offensive. Do you love their soul? Do you see a soul in need of love? Or are you too busy defending your “ism?”
There is no Jesusism; just people who try to live like him.