I recently read the story of an African-American Baptist Church in a large eastern city that was facing a conflict.
The source of the argument centered around the issue of to build or not to build. The pastor received death threats.
“If you ever preach in this church again, it will be the last sermon you ever preach.”
The tension was thick the following week. The preacher was in the pulpit, wearing a bulletproof vest and a body guard standing on each side.
The conflict escalated, because according to their tradition, a vote was scheduled to determine if the pastor should go or stay.
Hundreds had gathered to vote. Differing views were expressed. A fierce debate raged. Voices were loud. The atmosphere was divisive. Attitudes were bitter.
Over in the corner a frail, elderly back lady observed the scene that unfolded. This was not the church she knew. These were not the “Christian” people with whom she worshipped weekly. But what could she do? She held no office. She had no power.
She began to do the only thing she could think of doing. She began quietly to sing a simple confessional song. “If I have wounded any soul today, if I have caused one foot to go astray, if I have walked in my own willful way, dear, Lord, forgive.”
Soon others began to sing. Soon the song caught on and a new Christ like attitude emerged. They did not take a vote that day. Yes, later a building was build, because one woman sang of our need for God’s forgiveness. (Like a Shepherd Lead Us, Pp. 135, 136)
Why are we often quicker to fight than forgive? Why do we often seek our will, without listening to the views of others? Why do we seek to be understood, without taking time to understand?
When our pride gets in the way and we focus on our will, ignoring others, we need to sing “If I have wounded any soul today, if I have caused one foot to go astray, if I have walked in my own willful way, dear, Lord, forgive” or pray the prayer of the Psalmist, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23, 24, NIV)
Dr. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2014. Prior to that he served as the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Grove, for many years.