I was recently reminded of two episodes from my earlier life. The first is from back in my school days. The leadership of a supporting congregation asked me to come speak to them because they wanted to express concern over my use and promotion of the (then new) English Standard Version. After all, this new translation was endorsed by individuals who were persona non grata in our corner of Christianity and “we don’t feel comfortable using a translation of the Bible they endorse.”
The second came several years later when I was neck deep in congregational ministry. We were developing a sort of small group program and someone had suggested we call them “Brother’s Keepers” groups. The idea was immediately nixed by one of our church leaders who responded, “There’s a band that plays at one of those other churches up the road that call themselves The Brother’s Keepers. We don’t want to be associated with that sort of thing.”
It doesn’t matter that I could’ve named twice as many preachers that were verboten in our tribe that used our beloved King James Bible than I could the ESV. Nor did it matter that “brother’s keeper” found its origin in the Bible rather than with some contemporary Christian house band. In some ways, the corners of our tribe I used to inhabit had (sincerely and inadvertently) become primarily defined by how they differed from other faith traditions. “We don’t want to be like those churches.”
But, I’m going to admit: I’m not terribly interested in playing that game. I think there’s another metric we need to consider. I no longer really care whether or not something makes us look like some other church.
I want to know if it helps us look like Jesus.
If it looks like Jesus, I’m not going to fret over who else it makes us look like.