Saturday, April 24, 2010

24 APR 10: Walled World

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

The evening was cool, but comfortable and clear. It was a great night for members of one Columbus church congregation to gather for a special dinner, at one of the nicest restaurants in town. Take that, you skeptics -- you can do that once in a while, even if you tithe.

One couple in the congregation waited for other members to arrive - but then the wife noticed someone who looked familiar. It was a man who attended church with her years before. They recognized each other after a moment -- but they didn't do that "holy kiss" thing mentioned in the Bible. The woman's husband might have taken exception to that....

The familiar-looking man also was at the restaurant for a special dinner -- and in fact, he was sharing it with members of his current church group. It turned out both dinner parties were celebrating the same event on the religious calendar. For one night, the wait staff really had to be on its best behavior.

The familiar-looking man went on to join his group. And the husband and wife eventually found their dinner-mates, waiting in a different part of the restaurant. Some of these places need to learn from the Trade Center. If specials can be posted on chalkboards in a restaurant lobby, so can dinner groups and where they're hiding.

I was in the dinner party with the husband and wife, and knew more about the familiar-looking man than anyone in the group. Several blogs have documented he's one of the top leaders of a small denomination, which expects Jesus to return in May 2012. But the group is NOT so strange that it expects Jesus to visit the Mayans first.

Because I follow some church groups' activities on the Internet, I was able to tell the group about the man's denomination. I mentioned some of the predictions its top leader has made -- such as nuclear explosions along the Gulf Coast. Nearly two years after they were supposed to occur, the biggest explosion is still an offshore oil rig catching fire.

But at the end of the evening, I was saddened as I considered what had happened. The two dinner groups attend spinoffs of the same religious organization. They kept the same religious event in the same restaurant at the same time - but they were divided. And not even moving the kitchen out of the way would have helped.

No one ever suggested the two religious groups combine for dinner. And I probably didn't help matters, by spilling the beans about the other group's curiosities. We believe it's all about truth, you see - and shouldn't the association which makes the fewest mistakes in public win?

I can't believe God was pleased with what happened in that restaurant. After all, the Biblical book of Ephesians talks about "the unity of the spirit.... one Lord, one faith, one baptism...." Of course, that last one disappeared when somebody started sprinkling water on babies....

All sorts of things can cause division in a church group. Sadly, the association I'm attending has had a rough couple of weeks -- because a Council of Elders with oversight powers demanded the association's President resign. Some people are on the Council's side. Others are on the former President's side. And the next foot-washing service is more than a year away.

Long-time blog readers know I left that association for a year. Not because of who was in charge, but because of some things the association was teaching. People and leaders change all the time -- but if you change what the Bible says, you're asking for trouble. I'd rather people dance the twist than twist the Scriptures.

I long for the return of Jesus Christ, to set all things right on this Earth. It seems to me part of that job will involve setting the world's churches right - because a lot of contradictory teachings and doctrines will have to be resolved. It could be like a "closest to the pin" contest at a golf tournament. But I hope the losers won't be sent.... well, you know.... down the hole.

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