If we Independent Baptists were to practice real introspection and ask ourselves what is the worst crime that comes out of the issues we struggle with at times, what would it be? In this series I have slammed the pettiness that overtakes our movement at far too many points often. You may think that pettiness is annoying at most and not the biggest of problems, that it is of the roll-your-eyes variety. Could it be more?
Well, it comes across as a big deal to those who practice it. These pettiness perpetrators have presented it as life and death. To them, music, dress standards, and other extra-biblical issues are the Christian life, or so they come across. Some are offended to be told they come across that way, but it the subject most often on their lips, and the key element in how they size up other Christians. Strangely, pride, arrogance, temper issues, rudeness and the like are rarely discussed while going to a movie theater might prove once and for all someone’s spirituality or the lack thereof! Before you think I am too dramatic, I personally know far more people who have been shunned or separated from because of these petty issues than any of the aforementioned spiritual problems.
Let’s look beyond the individual elements that make up the pettiness and instead consider its impact in toto. How serious is it? Let’s consider it in light of a very possible future scenario. How will this pettiness appear to all of us if intense persecution comes?
If we must worship, as some other Christians have done, with a whisper so we can hear the footsteps of the authorities coming to get us, will these petty issues matter? If we are secretly meeting in the woods in the winter for church, will her pair of pants matter? If someone risks his life to share the Gospel, will you be obsessed with the rhythm of the music he listened to that morning? If she shares her food with you, will you care that she would go see a movie at a theater if she could? If you met one not ashamed to mention the name of Jesus, would you really write him off if a buddy said he was liberal and should be separated from? No, so why now? Only times of plenty can afford pettiness.
You may say, these issues are not petty to me. Well, to you I ask, will they honestly matter if being a Christian is itself life and death? You may say yes, but I humbly submit that I do not believe you. The potential of persecution has never been greater in America, so our pettiness grows ever more ludicrous. When it comes, we will remember in our pain the waste involved in our pettiness and weep. That is, too, the worst crime.
Find all articles in the series here.