In the beginning, God created everything good. But because of our disobedience, humanity is broken, and only the reconciling work of Christ can restore our wholeness.
Unfortunately, instead of praying, waiting and relying on God to work, people tend to do their own restoration. A holier-than-thou mentality — relying on works, not grace — leads to the feeling of being morally superior.
Joas Adiprasetya, an Indonesian theologian, said, “We are all sinners who need divine grace. The expression of sin is different. The rest is just a matter of who is more firm in condemning the sins of others and who is more speechless because of regretful crying.” I leave the statement there for us to ponder.
I was born and raised Roman Catholic, but I ended up becoming a pastor in one of the Pentecostal-charismatic churches in Indonesia. Before that time, I felt skeptical of the Pentecostal movement and superior in my Cathol-ic-ism, only to find that pride came before a fall.
American author Henry Cloud has a good quote on this: “Pride asks who’s right, humility asks what’s right.”
Maybe we need to continue asking that question — what’s right? — rather than pointing out the wrong in others.
I identify as an Anabaptist after my seminary experience in the United States. Working in ministry with Anabaptists makes me want to embrace it even more.
Anabaptist history and theology fill the gap between Catholicism and Pentecostalism. I like the Anabaptist vision of transformative discipleship, Christ-centeredness and an active peace witness.
I do need to keep reminding myself that I’m saved and alive not because of the label of Anabaptist. I’m saved and alive because of the grace of God through the reconciling work of Jesus.
I believe Anabaptism has much to offer for equipping the body of Christ. But we are not superior and definitely not holier.
I believe Anabaptists need to keep working on the mission God has given us, according to our unique context. We need to be confident in our mission but not at the expense of marginalizing others.
One thing I like about Anabaptists is that, in my experience, there’s not just one formula that fits all practice and discernment. Everyone has a story and a voice that matters. And every context is different. Comparing one to another and setting one right standard is not wise.
In the story of creation, God created Adam and Eve. Adam had one job: to name the animals. It was not an easy job, and God created Eve to help.
But the serpent tempted them to do more than name the animals. They were tempted to determine what is right and wrong. They wanted to become like God, knowing and judging for themselves what is good and what is evil.
I believe the fall of humanity began when humans started setting standards of right and wrong without God on their side.
We need to be humble in seeking the truth. Our experience, knowledge and capacity are limited. Our logic is flawed. Our emotions sometimes are not valid. And we are prone to temptations.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
I believe we can break our polarizing barriers with acts of humility, speaking truth with love and not with pride.
Let’s keep asking what is right. Keep seeking the truth. I believe we will know when we get there. Keep seeking until we find truth and freedom in Jesus Christ.