Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ray Ortlund: "The Emotional Tilt of your Heart"

The following quote from Ray Ortlund is making its way around the blogosphere the last couple of days (for example, here, here, and here). I really love the balance and incisiveness with which Ortlund addresses the subject of Christian unity.

I especially like the following phrase, which I believe captures the essence of what Christian unity is all about:

"...can you move among other Christian groups and really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them?"

Here is the longer quote. I have taken the liberty to change the wording, substituting the words "Conservative Southern Baptist" for the word "Reformed" wherever it occurs in the original, in order to bring home the point being made for the majority of the readers here at Love Each Stone.

Whatever divides us emotionally from other Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Christians is a "plus" we’re adding to the gospel. It is the Galatian impulse of self-exaltation. It can even become a club with which we bash other Christians, at least in our thoughts, to punish, to exclude and to force into line with us.

What unifies the church is the gospel. What defines the gospel is the Bible. What interprets the Bible correctly is a hermeneutic centered on Jesus Christ crucified, the all-sufficient Savior of sinners, who gives himself away on terms of radical grace to all alike. What proves that that gospel hermeneutic has captured our hearts is that we are not looking down on other believers but lifting them up, not seeing ourselves as better but grateful for their contribution to the cause, not standing aloof but embracing them freely, not wishing they would become like us but serving them in love (Galatians 5:13).

My Conservative Southern Baptist friend, can you move among other Christian groups and really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them? If your Conservative Southern Baptist theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your Conservative Southern Baptist theology. The remedy is to take your Conservative Southern Baptist theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are Conservative Southern Baptists will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Conservative Southern Baptists. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.

5 comments:

debbiekaufman said...

Wow. Great quote. I am drawn toward the last paragraph. That is the whole enchilada in my opinion. That is the key.

Alan Knox said...

David,

I've seen this floating around the internet, and I've read the original article. How my heart aches for brothers and sisters to recognize that we can hold our convictions strongly and yet accept one another as brothers and sisters in spite of our disagreements.

I am not as concerned about the brother or sister who disagrees with me. I am more concerned with the brother or sister who agrees, but who fails to recognize that we MUST accept all believers - because God has accepted them. (Rom. 14-15)

-Alan

Tim Patterson said...

David,

Great quote and post.

"By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Living in a cocoon of Christian subculture, whether it is conservative Baptist or some other group, not only separates us from the larger body of Christ... it also disengages us from the world. If we are truly engaging lost people, we don't have the luxury of emphasizing a denominational identity. We must identify with Christ and love each other regardless of creed, race, etc. Doctrinal distinctions should not separate us from people, they should cause us to be more like Christ and attract people, whether they are Christ followers, or not.

Deborah said...

Great post. We do need to love one another, and by doing so they will definitely get a better picture of who we believe Christ to be.
Blessings,

Dave Miller said...

AMEN!!

The instinct to exclude, to define oneself as the highest interation of biblical Christianity - it is a powerful instinct each of us must fight.