In those days there was no king
The last line of Judges is intriguing: ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit’ (Judges 21:25). It is a statement of judgement and the chaos that reigns when everyone is driven by their own agendas, rather than God’s agenda. Each thought they were right, and acted in accordance with their own thinking. The result was corporate confusion meaning that Israel was significantly impaired (at that point in time) from achieving God’s purposes in the world.
If I may be permitted to fast forward to more recent times, I vividly recall Mark Dever’s visit to Sydney a couple of years ago. Firstly, I was struck by how openly and frankly he disagreed with other Christian brothers on particular issues. Second was his commitment to working with those he disagreed with (on relatively minor issues). For the sake of the Lord Jesus, there was more that could be achieved as a team than could be achieved individually.
It was interesting when he was asked how he works out who to work with, and how to work out which issues are significant enough not to work together. The response was - while some issues are clear enough, for the most part its difficult and there are no easy answers.
Similar observations could be made about the approach of other good friends who visit us from time to time. That is, there is an admirable ability to work to the same ends, and at the same time acknowledge and respect differences. The result, at least on the American scene, is a national movement of evangelicals that at the very least cannot be ignored.
Yes, the American scene is different historically and culturally from ours. But herein lies the point. If one were writing a series on ‘The Seven Sins of Sydney Evangelicalism’ (if I may borrow from a fellow blogger), would one of them be our tendency to focus on and be driven by differences to the detriment of the advancement of the message of Jesus?
*In Israel’s case, the ensuing chaos was a reflection of their rebellion from God.