Thursday, November 07, 2013

Church Police 2

Church Police 2

There was really so much to cover under this topic last week I didn't feel I could get everything in and still wrote a long article, so I wanted to finish my thoughts on this subject this week.  Now, this won't be like Police Academy and have several sequels, but this is still a topic that is dividing church and Christians and in the mean time the great commission and salvation issues get ignored by we argue, fight, and belittle amongst ourselves.

The truth is no one Christian, church group, or denomination has cornered the market of doing everything correct, if that were the case there wouldn't be so many different splits of Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and some of the others church groups and movements. 

The truth also is that many Christians and church groups do many things correct as far as doctrine, theology, etc...but certain individual Christians, movements, or church groups still take it too far when they label others as heretics, false prophets, liberals, sodomites, un-saved, or mis-lead because someone may see, practice, or hold different views or convictions about different things.

First of all, I may have one view of the end of times and you may hold a different view of the end of times, but does that mean either of us is less of a Christian, a moron, or heretic?  Hardly.  You see most church groups or Christians have basic doctrinal stances that make up their belief system as a group (virgin birth of Jesus, the Trinity, the Bible being inspired Word of God, Jesus being son of God, & Jesus is the only way to Salvation to name a few). There are things that are "salvation issues" meaning, if I don't believe Jesus was born of a virgin or I don't believe God inspired the Bible as His Word then we may have an issue over salvation.

However, most mainline Christians and church groups share most of these basic doctrinal/salvation issues. The problem comes when we start making "other issues" into salvation issues.  Being a member at a church of God or a church of Nazarene isn't a "salvation" issue.  Using contemporary or traditional music in worship is not a "salvation" issue.  Using a King James Bible or a New American Standard Bible is not a "salvation" issue, not being in a certain denomination is not a "salvation" issue, your views on social drinking or abstaining from alcohol is not  a "salvation" issue, your view or eternity security, gifts of the spirit, or end of times are not "salvation" issues.

Do you see how easy it is for us to start trying to police others who are different than us? Then we start making salvation issues out of every issue and topic that we don't agree with. While God desires us to be people of the Book and study to show ourselves approved and correctly handle His Word, it is not a license to go around claiming people false prophets, non-Christians, heretics, or liberals because they do not line up with the way I was raised, taught, or choose to worship God.

I can hold different convictions than you or different views of certain scriptural topics than you without arrogantly or judgmentally trying belittle or separate you from the fold.  God desires us to be Unified in the body, not Uniform.  We can agree on the issues that are related to our salvation without making every issue or topic that comes along an issue of salvation or a test of fellowship.  God wants us to reverently fear Him, but at the same times does not want us to serve Him with a fear of going to Hell every time we sin, or may have a different take on certain biblical subjects.

I can worship with old or new music, because worship is about the heart, not the style or whether you use no instruments or 10 instruments, but I don't or can't bind that same preference on someone who feels convicted to worship without instruments or only likes the newer music.  I  can use an NIV bible or a NKJV bible, but if someone feels they can only use a KJV than I respect that, but also expect that same respect back, and not to be treated like I'm ignorant, mis-informed, or uneducated.  I may choose to worship at the Christian Church or the Baptist Church, but that doesn't not mean I can't fellowship, worship, or enjoy learning along side someone who attends a different church group than me, if we agree on the basic doctrines of Jesus being the son of God, the bible being inspired, and Jesus being the only way to God and salvation, and I think we can all continue to learn and grow in our faith and in our learning of God's Word.

It's funny I never see any scripture in the Bible where God tells us or told others to not fellowship with someone based on music styles, denominational ties, or things of that nature. It was always those who purposely sinned or kept sinning or the false prophets were those who were bringing in pagan or false religion gods. However, there were issues because of jews and gentile Christians and Christians who were roman or greek because of cultural issues, they divided and God used Paul and Peter and others to encourage them to be unified and keep focused on the issues that mattered. I encourage us all to do the same.  Let God police the church and Christians and let us simply strive to Love God, Love others, and to fulfill the Great Commission or Reaching the Lost and Making Disciples, if we are doing that, we're not going to have time to argue, debate, and spend our energy trying to prove other Christians or church groups wrong, we'll be about the Father's Business.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Church Police

Church Police

In my experience as a Christian and Preacher, you would think that any disagreements, arguments, or debates I'd have would be with the non-Christian, the atheist, or those from other religions, but not true. It seems anytime I've had a disagreement with someone over Christianity it is always a fundamental or legalistic Christian who feels it's their mission and life's work to be God's police to the world. 

These types of people make it their personal mission in life to prove others wrong, be right, argue, debate, belittle, name-call, and look down on those who do not line up with them whether doctrinally, theologically, denominationally, or other church or faith issues.  It's a mind-set of either you are for me or against me.  You either agree with me or you are a liberal, heretic, sodomite, watered-down, ignorant, stupid, (add you own description here), I've been called a lot.  The sad thing is I don't like to argue(really!), but some folks can't seem to understand that, their whole faith system is made up of proving others wrong, being right, and making a point to "police" Christians.

I do agree that God wants us to preach "Truth" and He wants us to "correctly" handle His Word, and He wants us to not be afraid to stand up for our faith or convictions, however, in all the scripture I read I do not se anywhere where God commands or endorses this militant, dogmatic, legalistic, or sinful style of treatment of others, as a matter of fact, I see Jesus spending a lot of time condemning this type of behavior and attitudes from the Pharisees and religious leaders in the gospels and also Apostle Paul doing the same in the Book of Acts.

The truth is you can know the truth, preach the truth, and share the truth, but if you don't do it with a loving heart and attitude, I think you do more damage than good.   This type of preaching Hell, Fire, and Brimstone, Old Fashioned, Hardcore guilt-driven, hate fueled, argumentative, arrogant-style of behavior does not lead people to the truth or grace of Christ, but repels people from God and church.

It seems we live in a world where many folks would rather worship their traditions, their denominations, or their "styles" than worshipping and serving Jesus Christ.  The Bible teaches we will be known by our "fruit" (Matthew 7:16) not by our being a jerk.  Scripture also teaches people will know we are Christians by our love(John 13:35) not by our knowledge or display of finger pointing skills.

I am all for exposing error and sin.  I am not preaching or teaching anything goes, we need boundaries of truth from God's Word, but to be honest most of the things people debate, argue, and fight over with other Christians, are not essentials to salvation, or are not a salvation issues, meaning it has nothing to do with our salvation or our salvation is not in question.  Yet, we make many issues/topics a test of fellowship(we refuse to fellowship with others who don't agree with us on every issue/topic), or we make it a separation of saying I am right and they are wrong, so I am saved and they are not.  Look at the things we divide and argue over?  Bible versions, church musical styles, dress codes, church names, traditions, views on issues like eternal security or end of times, etc...

We seldom see arguments of  God's deity, or trinity, or virgin birth, or Jesus being the ONLY way to God for Salvation, the inspiration of the Bible, etc...we argue over stupid things that we've been raised or brain-washed to believe and that does more damage to the church and Christianity when Christians fight, name-call, belittle, and argue over who is more right, or has better grasp on "truth", or things of this nature.

I think we need to work out our own salvation.  We need to love God and love others the way God loves them. I think we need to study God's Word on a regular basis, pray day and talk to God, be guided by the Holy Spirit, and be involved in worship, service, and giving in our local church and stop majoring in minors and stop making everything a salvation issue.

We have lost common sense in our lives when we make it our soul purpose in life to police other Christians or churches and not honor God with our actions and attitudes.  We are not honoring or representing God when we spend our time focus on our differences and not on what we have in common, which is of far greater importance. Whether you are scared you're going to hell, or scared you're going to be wrong, or whatever, it's time to realize God did not call us to be the police, watchdog, or judge of the world, but to simply be a Christ-follower, a church body part, and fulfill the great commission and be disciples. Honor God by loving others and sharing truth in love.

Ephesians 4:1b-3(NIV)

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.