The detective in the crime novel fell foul of his superiors. His downfall was due to his brutish harassment of suspects and to his intransigence in what he believed to be right and wrong. The arrogance and lack of compassion in the man resulted from his insistence that everything be measured strictly in terms of black and white. What is wrong with that? A reasonable question for a Christian to ask. It’s how many of us understand it, and there certainly are passages in the Bible which rule out compromise. Little wonder there is so much bigotry attached to religion.
Apart from there being grey areas in our pursuit of morality, the varied opinions of so many different people inevitably prevent a common mind in all things. In the course of my ministry I have presided over hundreds of meetings of one sort or other and know well how messy and difficult it can be in church business meetings to obtain and maintain a consensus. Rabbi Blue the well-known and popular writer and broadcaster, in one of his inimitable pieces, speaks of the problem of doing what is right and following conscience, yet being bound to a majority vote.
I wonder if the strange, but not unusual, Hebraic custom of deciding by casting lots, the method adopted by the apostles in the appointment of Judas Iscariot’s successor (Acts 1:26), was an acknowledgement of the difficulty of obtaining a common mind: a safeguard against human prejudice. Our acceptance of a compromise solution, and our loyalty to a majority decision with which we do not agree, may reflect a healthier spirituality than that of the absolute authoritarianism so much in vogue. When things we believe in and hold dear are rejected and we are convinced that the path favoured by our opponents, albeit it by a reasonable majority, is at a cost to our particular cause, it is almost inevitable that the proponents of the minority cause will be disappointed, angry, hurt, resentful, even tempted to throw in the towel. It happens in all walks of life – the church is no exception.
There is another way, to respond to the challenge of achieving togetherness, whatever side of the fence we stand, generously and graciously respecting one another’s integrity. In the biblical and Christian vocabulary ……….GRACE!
Prayer: Lord, give us grace to keep our word, especially when our view is a minority one and we must abide by a majority decision, when we do not understand the way you are leading when you lead us along the path we resent having to take. Amen