I know this isn’t the humor page, but please indulge me for a moment.
The story is told of a Christian Reformed man trapped on a deserted island. After years of living alone, he is finally rescued. The sailors who find him also discover three grass huts on the beach.
Puzzled, the rescuers ask the man what the huts are for. The man replies that one was his house and another was his church. When pressed about the third hut, the man reluctantly answers, “I prefer not to talk about that. It was my old church before it became too progressive.”
Sometimes humor can be a delightful way to get at the truth.
The Christian Reformed Church is in the final months of celebrating God’s grace and faithfulness over the past 150 years. In the midst of celebration, we also remember that the birth of the CRC was the result of a split over issues that seem in retrospect, at least to some, quaint and unimpressive. Yet to the men and women who left the Reformed Church in America to form the CRC, those issues were significant enough to break away.
Now, 150 years later, we are still wrestling as a church. This past synod, by removing the word “male” from the Church Order, opened all offices and church leadership roles to women as well as men. Doing so has a significant impact. Some people are pleased and excited that the church has finally moved forward, but others are disturbed and concerned for the future of the CRC.
I have been asked numerous times if people will leave the CRC over this decision. Some even asked me to predict how many might leave and when it might happen. My response is always the same: I believe the Christian Reformed Church is big enough and broad enough to include people who disagree on many issues.
The CRC’s umbrella is large enough for us all. Rather than being exclusive, we can include all brothers and sisters who exalt the name of Jesus and follow his leading. Jesus himself said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He did not stop there; he also pleaded “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (17:21).
Sometimes it’s easier to walk away than to engage with one another. We grow weary of the debates and frustrated by the outcomes. But I hope that in the aftermath of synod’s decision, we can set aside our disagreements and move forward together. There is a world that needs the love of Christ, the message of salvation, and the cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. It’s time to re-engage in ministry locally, regionally, and internationally.
It’s my hope and prayer that as we rededicate ourselves to be the Christian Reformed Church we will focus on our calling to transform lives and communities through the power of Christ. Will it be easy? I doubt it. Will we have problems, even with each other? I expect we will. Will the struggles and pain be worth it? Without question.
I invite you to join me in doing all we can to work and pray that the kingdom of God will come and his will be done, on earth even as it is in heaven. Maybe, just maybe, when Christ comes to rescue us from this deserted island he will find only two huts–one home and one church.
God bless you.