The following is an excerpt from Nish Weiseth’s book SPEAK that released this week. I hope you enjoy the post, follow Nish, and then buy this wonderful, wonderful book!
The argument about women in ministry that had transpired in my kitchen plays out in a multitude of ways every day. On youTube, loud and angry pastors stand in their pulpits and slap other believers and churches with labels like “heretical” and “unbiblical.” They call themselves true, gospel-oriented churches, with the implication that those who are different aren’t really following the gospel. This divisiveness rears its head every day in blog posts, in magazine articles, in the pages of books, from the stages of conferences, and behind the closed doors of church leadership meetings. We build these little islands for ourselves with big walls around them to keep out those who are different from us.
The list of “others” is long. And unfortunately, lately, the focus has been on how we are different rather than on what we have in common. It’s too easy to get entrenched. We wallow so eyebrow-deep into our opinions, commentaries, and scholarly resources on Christianity that we look right pas the Man who gave our faith its name and reason for existence. We do this because it’s comfortable. It makes us feel safe. By keeping those who think differently over there, away from our safe bubble of security, we give ourselves an excuse not to engage. Or worse, if we do engage, we do so in a hurtful way. In the pursuit of “orthodox” theology, of being right, it’s far too easy to lose sight of Jesus altogether.
One of my favorite stories about Jesus is found in the gospel of John, when He sits by a well and chats up a Samaritan woman who came to draw water… When Jesus sits and speaks with the Samaritan woman, they don’t have an argument or a debate over Jewish practices versus Samaritan practices. In fact, they talk only briefly about the differences between their religions. Jesus does so ever so gently, and throughout their conversation, He sets the stage to tell this woman about Himself. Jesus tells her about how she can access living water, the source of eternal life.
The hard and beautiful thing about following Jesus is that we are invited and called to act like Him. Following Jesus is an ongoing, transformational process, and, as believers, we’re invited to be a bit more like Him everyday. Sometimes that means having conversations that feel uncomfortable.
The heated conversation I had with Erik in the kitchen made me realize I had spent too much time and energy being angry toward the men discussing leadership in our church. I had judged before I had listened, and it was humbling to look back on my words and actions. In pushing for equality, I behaved like a Pharisee – the last thing in the world I ever wanted to be…
Jesus invites us to be builders of bridges, and the best way to build a bridge within the church is to act like Him. It’s time to go sit at the well and speak grace as we spend time with those who think differently, believe differently, worship differently.
Rather than avoiding that person or that group, what if we choose to sit down and talk?
Nish Weiseth is an author, a blogger, and the founder and editor-in-chief of A Deeper Story. She lives in Salt Lake City, UT with her husband Erik and their two young children. This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of her new book, SPEAK.