Narrow Minded Christians
by Jimmy Williams | February 4, 2014
One of my mentors, the Bishop Dr. Raymond O’Neal Lankford, once told me that the older he becomes the more liberal he becomes. I was so shocked that I became like the bewildered disciples who asked Jesus on one occasion “Master, how can these things be?!” He went further to say that as he continues in ministry the more he realizes that most of what different Christians, churches and denominations fuss and fight over is not what my good C.O.G.I.C. (Church Of God In Christ) background calls “absolutely essential” for personal salvation. You know what? He’s right.
The older I become the more I realize that most Christians I come into contact with have a very narrow and constricted view of who God is. I further resolve that those same Christians because of their limited, stifled and constricted view of God don’t believe the Bible; at least not in it’s entirety like they say they do. Their rejection and vilification of anyone who has a different view from themselves is enough evidence to prove my statement. Yet most of us agree that clothes, makeup, worship style, jewelry or whether you wear a head covering when in worship is not absolutely essential for personal salvation. We say that Jesus is the way but yet we continue to condemn and damn to hell others who have Jesus as Savior just because they may adhere to a slightly different form of Christianity then ourselves. Oh what a shame!
How dare we be so arrogant to think that our revelation of who God is and what God does is the one and sole revelation of the all powerful God to all of creation?! Yet we have the nerve to quote scripture that tells us that God fills all in all. We teach the omnipresence of God in our churches, Sunday Schools and Seminaries and ridicule the Pharisees for their failed attempts to keep the vastness of God contained in their narrow understanding of who God is because they feared that the ministry of Jesus would liberate the true and living God from the small confined space that they wanted to keep God in. How hypocritical and pharisaical it is for us to read for years and years the words of King David when he said “Whether I fly away to the ends of the earth or go to heaven or even make my bed in the grave I cannot escape from your presence because you are there” and then tell others who are different from us that God is not with them, has nothing to do with them and most definitely will not let them into His heaven.
I praise God that after 17 years of pulpit ministry preceded by 7 years of diaconal ministry, I can echo Bishop Lankford by saying “The older I become the more liberal I become.” The ministry of Jesus according to Luke 4:18-19 is essentially a ministry of liberation. Liberation if freedom from confinement, limitation and bondage even if that bondage has been passed down to us in the name of religion. As disciples let us make a decision to walk into what Bishop Frank Griswald calls “the vast unknown of resurrection life”. It is in this liberty that the life and love of Jesus which revels the vastness of God can be more fully expressed through us to our neighbor as mutual respect, understanding, patience and most of all love for those who are different from ourselves. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, because you have love.” (John 13:35)
Love mandates that I love my neighbor as myself. To love my neighbor as myself I must open my heart and mind to my neighbor to listen with a heart toward understanding even if I don’t agree. God never promised to give us all of the answers to every question while we are down here. But God did give us all things that pertain to the essentials of salvation and they are Christ and Him crucified. Part of the journey into the vast unknown of resurrection life is the liberty of seeing, knowing, learning and understanding that only comes through the eyes, ears and words of my neighbor who has a different view from myself. It is the very nature of truth to liberate. Even if that truth comes from someone the traditional church told me God cannot use.
Let truth liberate the mind and expand the consciousness so that the vastness of God can be experienced in every area of our lives and we can open ourselves to a fuller measure of the fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit as we seek to live peacefully with one another. I promise…you will be glad that you did.