Testing produces perseverance

Hi All,

Just on a strange note, in the cafe I sit in there are 3 laptops running, all macs. Just though I’d share. I love Montreal. :-)

So, if you look back, you’ll remember the awesome way in which the Lord dealt with my developing bitterness over a talk that seemed to deny almost everything I believe about my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I have to admit, that in that case the understanding I had was only by implication, and so it was quite correct of my brother from the west to question my anger.

Tonight, however, I am left with a similar response of anger. Remember that the topic of the conference I’m attending is “Stewards of Creation: Theology and Sustainability”. Thus I’m sure many of you would’ve shared my surprise that this evening’s keynote lecture was essentially about promoting sustainability by challenging (and one would assume eliminating) patriarchal models of leadership in the Church. (Can someone comment on what this has to do with the topic I came to discuss?)

Now, most of you know that I have an opinion on that topic, and not one that would generally be in agreement. The problem is that the majority of conference goers here are women seeking ordination. The speaker allowed for a short breakout session in which we were asked to name patriarchal symbology and come up with ways to question it. Floating my complementarian position among the group, I was met with questions like “So do you believe that leadership in the church should be determined by whether you have a penis or a vagina”. I really didn’t feel safe to speak after that in either the small group, or the general large group. That was even after some people floated the openly modalist (an early heresy) rephrasing of the trinity, and as a poor girl spoke up in favor of at least a moderate sense of chivalry. I had to apologize to her afterwards, as I can’t help but think I was being unchivalrous of letting her take the flak. I even didn’t comment when a man got up and said “I open doors for everybody, whether they be male, female, or transgendered”. The clear rhetorical aim of the statement could not be missed, and it was clearly not to provide a safe space for our disagreements.

I’d like to say that I stayed silent because I was patient, but I have to confess, it was because I was very, very angry. The kind of anger that leaves me absolutely stone cold silent. I am not proud of that, as honestly, these people didn’t really deserve my anger. They probably didn’t realize just where some of the conference participants were on the continuum of Christian belief. I don’t believe that I sinned, but I have to admit, that it was only barely. God drew out into my mind the need to bear with adversity with patience, to listen to those who disagree with me, and later, that in my anger I should not sin. Indeed, the adversity of this evening may produce some benefit, as I hope I learned a little of how to hear people who really disagree with me, and I learned that God had a good plan in making my highest form of anger a silent one. In this case it kept me from saying hurtful things I would not mean.

All of that said, I am still at this conference tomorrow, and until Friday. I am still unclear as to how I should be faithful to my Lord, Jesus Christ, in this context. I also need to deal with a clear self-centered streak that made me far angrier to face attack on “my faith”, rather than anger at the seeming desire to ignore Jesus (he was mentioned once in the opening keynote, twice during the seminar session, and if he was mentioned tonight, I wasn’t counting since I had lost perspective.

In any case, thanks to all of you who are praying for this weak vessel of a Christian. Your prayers are felt, but I feel like I am clearly at the front lines of a spiritual battle. On praise, I had an opportunity to witness openly to someone about my own sinfulness, and the way Christ saved (and continues to save) me from my own evil. I got to discuss environmentalism with some evangelicals who are affiliated with A Rocha (they’re delegates, not really speakers), and I have been able to speak some to a roommate who seems even more isolated here than I am. Pray that I’d be faithful, pray that God would give me opportunities to speak lovingly and humbly, and use me in those opportunities. Pray most especially that God would grant that his will be done as they choose a national planning committee for the next conference. I’m left wondering where a Christian is to knock the dust from their feet, and where are they to be salt and light to lost people. Should I be working to see that some real believers get on the NPC, or should I just work to tell people about Jesus and when I come home forget all about these things?

Again, thanks to anybody reading, and an even greater thanks to those who choose to pray for this conference, and the people here (especially those who confess Jesus Christ). In all things, may He be glorified above all!

In Him,
– Steve

One thought on “Testing produces perseverance

  1. Thanks for the updates Steve. Look forward to hearing more about the conference when you return.

    -Gary

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