When a struggle presents itself within a Christian community, those involved often grapple with questions regarding the appropriate response. Too often we can mistake a nice response for the right response; it is easier to ignore a situation than it is to address it. I first learned this lesson as a counselor at Lutheridge. It seemed every week gave me an opportunity to politely ignore situations that arose in the community or to address them, whether that be a camper whose desire to always give the answer was prohibiting others to shine or even that a coworker’s (or my own) actions were somehow to the detriment of others. Although hard decisions to act are difficult and are inevitably open to scrutiny, we attempt to make these decisions as humble yet faithful disciples. To not address a problem that is affecting the Christian community simply because it is easier/politer not to act is to ignore the calling we find throughout St. Paul’s writings regarding Christian communities. That truth remains even when we move to issues larger than camp cabin dynamics, such as struggles regarding finances and decisions that impact peoples’ lives.
I graduated from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS), which is merging with Lenoir-Rhyne University (LRU). I happen to also be a graduate of LRU, which is also a Lutheran institution, yet I do not let that cloud my opinions on these matters other than the fact that I know the university takes pride in being an institution of the church when other colleges/universities shy away from their ties to the church.
Because of its finances, the doors of LTSS would have closed within a few short years if something did not happen; that was a matter of math, not speculation. Yet, the fact that a merger has taken place does not automatically mean financial issues are resolved. A part of resolving these financial matters was the recent discontinuation of faculty positions, which is also tied in with LTSS’ own restructuring of their curriculum and graduation requirements.
* Hard decisions are made.
* Lives are changed.
* Emotions rise.
* Accusations are made.
* The seminary’s doors remain open.
All of these are true and should be acknowledged. We should pray for all whose lives are affected. We should pray for those whose opinions on the matter differ from our own. We should all rejoice that God has provided a means for the seminary to remain a faithful institution. Finally, we should be thankful that God has called people to positions who must make these hard decisions. I do not envy these people, and I am certain that others would fair no better if they were called to make decisions under such circumstances.
Rather than imagining those who make decisions with which we disagree in negative terms (such as flippant and sneering), we should consider the possibility that those Christians who are placed in those positions were sincerely prayerful, fully knowing the ramifications of their decisions, and perhaps even shedding tears over what lay before them. That does not mean we must agree with those decisions, nor does it mean that we cannot criticize those decisions, but it does mean we have no right to question the level of faith of those individuals that God has called to make these hard decisions.
Faithful Father, you call us to be faithful to you in all of our lives and we often struggle with how that is to be. Stir your Spirit within those whom you have called and placed to make faithful decisions in your Church, whether those decisions affect camp cabins, seminaries, denominational bodies, or anything else in your kingdom. Help us to see your presence and your work even when we are uncertain of those decisions made. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.