It happened to me at another church, in another community. I had spent several hours preparing for the sermon that week. My focus was on an historical doctrine of our faith. I researched, prayed and wrote. I prayed again and wrote and re-wrote, and researched a little bit more. I finally preached on Sunday morning, doing the best that I could.
On Monday morning I received a phone call. The caller was a little abrupt. He was a visitor in the service on Sunday morning. He made it quite clear that I was wrong about my interpretation, and he was disappointed in me. He was calling to make sure that I knew that.
I don’t pretend to know it all. Not even close. Far from it. But for what it’s worth, I have a college degree and a three-year Master of Divinity degree from seminary. I have read and studied the Bible for years. I presented that morning the historical Wesleyan theological interpretation of this doctrine. But it didn’t line up with the phone caller’s viewpoint, so obviously I was the one in error, and he felt like it was his duty to call me out.
I told him that I respectfully disagreed with his interpretation, but I have to admit that the phone call left me exhausted . . . and discouraged. Not because we disagreed, but because of his high-horse, “you have it all wrong” attitude. I still remember the conversation. I still remember his condescending tone. I still remember the sadness I felt.
You know, it really doesn’t have to be like that. People of faith surely can disagree. But in the process, can't we can lift each other up and be encouraging?
The Apostle Paul said, “Be kind and tenderhearted to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32) I sure need to be reminded of that. What about you?