An epiphany is defined as "a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization."
I have wondered why there has been such a dramatic, often emotional response to my efforts to articulate my Biblical opposition on a few issues confronting us in the Southern Baptist Convention including the decision to forbid the appointment of any missionaries who speak in tongues in their private prayers, the exclusion of missionaries who were baptized in a church that does not hold to eternal security, and the recent resolution requesting the refusal of appointment as trustee any Southern Baptist who does not hold to a personal abstinence conviction regarding the use of alcohol.
The continuing narrowing of the parameters of participation and cooperation in Southern Baptist work is a concern of mine, but what has startled me more than anything else is the often belittling, sometimes angry response of those who do not agree with me on these issues. It has been at best confusing, at worst, a little unsettling.
But yesterday I had an epiphany.
It happened as I was driving west on Owen K. Garriott, or Highway 412 for you outside of Enid, and I drove right by our church and the color video display screen on the church sign. The sign was functioning properly, and there were some great video announcements regarding the events upcoming at our church.
But the color was off.
The video screen was mostly yellow and green. The usual beautiful rainbow of vivid plasma colors that mark our sign was gone. We have had some problems with the sign since we were hit by lightening, and I picked up my cell phone to call Pastor Ted Kuschel, our Minister of Media, to let him know that we were having problems. I also wondered why Pastor Ted had not caught this, since he worked Friday and should have noticed the problem. I was just a little irritated.
Then, just as I was dialing his number --- I realized I had my golf sunglasses on. These fancy glasses filter out unwanted UV rays, but they also distort colors by dimishing any color but green and yellow, which makes things very crisp and clear on the golf course, but distorted in real life. Here I was upset with Ted for not getting the sign repaired in preparation for Sunday, but the problem was not the sign --- it was the filter on my eyes.
Had I not discovered my personal filter, and had Pastor Ted come down to the church at my beckoning he would have seen for himself a beautiful, multicolored display on our video sign. He would have told me there was nothing wrong with the sign and then he and I would have argued. I KNEW what I was seeing. He KNEW what he he was seeing. We were both looking at the same thing, but we were seeing it differently. I would have argued with him that color needed to be ADDED. He would have argued that adding any color would have distorted the already beautiful sign.
Here was my epiphany.
The gospel is a beautiful panalopy of brilliant color to me. It is Christ and Him crucified. As the Apostle Paul said, "I desire to know nothing else among you but Christ and Him crucified." Everything I say and write is an attempt to maintain the supernatural beauty of the gospel. When others seek to add to the gospel denominational regulations, performance oriented dictums, cultural prohibitions, and other man-made duties, I see the gospel being compromised, distorted, and ultimately marred. The beauty of the gospel is breathtaking to me, and anybody who seeks to add to it, destroys that beauty in my eyes.
But those who argue with me argue with all sincerity. To them, it is I who have "destroyed" the gospel. If I don't agree to their prohibitions and mandates, then my gospel is not truly the gospel of the Bible, and I am the one who is marring the gospel. I believe they look at the gospel through a filter. Maybe it is the filter of their upbringing, past personal disappointments or failures, or simply fear that a simple gospel, without certain prohibitions will lead to licentiousness.
Whatever the case, my personal epiphany has caused me to come to three conclusions:
(1). Never question the sincerity of my Christian brother who upbraids me for writing what I write. In his mind he is keeping the gospel "pure."
(2). Be patient with those who disagree. They may be unaware of any filter over their eyes, and only God can ultimately remove it.
(3). And for every person who will read this post and comment saying, "But Wade, YOU are the one with the filter over your eyes regarding the gospel!" I will simply respond --- "You may be right. That is why I am asking God to help me see the gospel in all its beauty without any of my preconceived biases. Pray for me that any filter I have over my eyes may be removed as well."
In His Grace,