Last week, on my post “Have you signed my ‘Guest Book’,” Arlan left a comment that I would like to highlight so that more people read it and think about it.
In the comment, Arlan is actually introducing himself to me and my readers. But, I think his comment goes along well with several of posts investigating fellowship and unity among brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of various kinds of disagreements. My latest post to discuss these issues was called “Unity and Fellowship: Where do you draw the line?”
Here is Arlan’s comment:
I was raised outside of the regular (institutional) church and have spent most of my life outside of any church. I have had some Christian fellowship, particularly with my own family, but I hesitate to call all Christian contact “church” in the sense of those called out by God assembling for the purpose of mutual edification.
Your recent post on unity and fellowship really strikes a nerve. In most of my childhood my family could not find enough unity to maintain fellowship. As I have tried things out on my own I have more often found too much fellowship without unity–a circle of friends, but not of servants, and without much honesty about the real differences between members.
Church, in all its institutional and organic flavors, seems to be a contest between doctrines and good feelings. On the one side they insist on truth at all costs and forget that God loved us while we were his enemies; on the other side they insist on love at all costs and forget that love without truth is false love–treachery, really. If we neglect to admonish each other we are abandoning one another to our sins.
A year ago I went to a Baptist Sunday school that was more concerned with Being Right and also to a home fellowship that was more concerned with Joy, Peace, and Encouragement. In June I moved and I haven’t gotten with any fellowship since. It is hard to even know how to look.
I’ve been to the Searching Together conference in 2008, 2009, and 2011, which is nice to do once a year; but I feel the need to live the truth, love, and service where I am without yet knowing how.
I appreciate Arlan’s last line especially: “I feel the need to live the truth, love, and service…”