Friday, October 23, 2015

What matters

What Matters

It seems in Christian or religious circles we tend to focus on non-essentials or things that don't matter as far as salvation is concerned.  What I mean, is when we look at any subject, topic, or doctrine, we have to ask ourselves is this a command or instruction in God's Word or is this a preference, tradition, or a place where we have individual freedom to decide.

There are things in the Bible that are black and white, but there are also things that were cultural or social at the time of their writings.   There are also differences between the law of the Old Testament and the new covenant of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  The problem we face in any case when discussing what is sin and what is no sin or what is right and wrong is our "interpretation" of scripture or sometimes our "lack of interpretation" of scripture.

It's easy to pick and choose bible verses out of the Bible forgetting that the bible wasn't originally written in this book and chapter and verse format.  Also, not all books of the bible are written the same, meaning some are historical accounts, some are letters, some are poetry, and some are eyewitness accounts, etc.

We also forget that when we read God's Word we need to read it in context, meaning we can't just pull out random verses to defend our arguments, justify our actions, or back up our doctrinal stances. We need to look at the text as a whole and ask the Who, What, When, Where, and Why and stop taking individual verses out of context or trying to use or misuse certain scriptures to defend or support our beliefs.

Sadly, many people don't study the Bible as they should, they rely on others to tell them what it says or they are influenced by their parents, a preacher, an author, their own agendas, or someone else to tell them how or what to believe. They are indoctrinated by their particular denominational or church group as to what or how to believe and reality and truth is these groups aren't all teaching the truth or biblical doctrines correctly.

Even more sadly, is the fact that many of us judge, condemn, condone, or support things based on our skewed  or ignorant view of scripture based not on actual study of scripture, but on what we are taught about scripture from our parents, family, preacher, or church group, or what we do on our own We look down on others faith, will not fellowship with them, or even like to argue/debate with others in a negative way, none of which honors or glorifies God, even if you were correct.  You can be right and still have the wrong attitude.

We are lying to ourselves if we don't think the devil is using Christians and churches to do his bidding.  Satan is the father of deception and confusion and he wants Christians and churches splitting, fighting, arguing, dividing, and fighting amongst ourselves, so that the world will see that and not want anything to do with God or His Church, but also if Christians are busy always fighting, arguing, or on their personal crusades with their favorite doctrinal issues, then you aren't focused on busy on things that really matter, which is reaching the lost, making disciples, and serving others.

It's time we all get back focused on what matters.  Don't be known for what you're against, be known for what you're for.  Instead of boycotting, picketing, debating, or blasting people on social media, how about praying for others, sharing your faith with others, serving in your community, and finding ways to love people, or read your bible.

When we stand before the Lord someday, I don't believe He's going to be asking us if we sung with or without instruments, if we sung hymns or contemporary songs, used the King James or NIV bible version, if we went to the Baptist or Methodist Church, or how many religious debates are arguments we won.   He won't asked us if we dressed up for church, or accepted changes is society and culture. Yet, many of us live like this is the case every day.

We've got to get back to reading our Bibles and studying God's Word.  In it, is how we should be living, how we should be acting, what our attitudes should be, what we should be doing , and what really matters.  We need to ask ourselves in any situation, is this really a salvation issue? Is this really essential or non-essential to mine or others salvation? Is this a command or personal preference?  Is this truth? God is God, and He desires our obedience and faithfulness to Him and His truth, but at the same time he's not as fundamental, legalistic, liberal, and narrow-minded as we try to make Him out to be.   The truth is we don't really know Him, we are just doing what we've been taught, modeled for us by others, or we've allowed satan to use us to hurt the church.

Let's all get back to being people of the Bible and being people who focus on the things that really matter. 

Romans 14:1
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Easily Offended

Easily Offended
Proverbs 19:11(NIV)
A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense .

We live in a world that is so easily offended.  People sit around looking and waiting to be offended by something.  They troll the internet and they listen intently at conversations looking for something to be offended about. On the side of every issue or topic, there's a party waiting to be offended by the other.

It's in our homes, in our schools, at our workplaces, and yes, even in our churches.  People offended.  If someone doesn't speak to me, or act friendly to me, I'm offended.  If someone doesn't invite me or ask me to do something, I'm offended.  The list is really endless of the things people get offended over and that's not even counting all the stuff going on in our culture and society today. 

There is a time and place to be offended.  We should be offended when sin. We should be offended if someone is done wrong or treated bad.  We should be offended if someone attacks God or His Church or His Word, but those aren't the things that usually offend us.  What offends us is usually selfish or self-centered things.  Our easily offended is usually because we are insecure, moody, angry, hurt, or have a bad or wrong attitude to begin with.  So, we are basically just a person sitting around waiting to be offended by something.  If you look for trouble, you'll find it every time.

My goal today is for us to understand that many times our "being offended" is not  because of the perpetrator, but a lot of times its us, because we have a wrong or bad attitude or underlying issues that cause us to be upset because we didn't get our way, we misunderstand something someone said, or we simply are overly emotional and sensitive and get our feelings hurt, or we're "looking" for things to be offended about. 

In my line of work, working in churches, I have had my share of dealing with the easily offended.  I'm not saying I don't put my foot in my mouth at times or make someone mad, Lord knows anyone who knows me knows I'm an expert at that, but people are offended because you don't ask them to do something, or you didn't invite them to something, or you didn't mention them from the pulpit, or you forgot to give them credit for something, etc...even though it may be because they have a wrong attitude or something else, I think we come to church or serve in the local church we need to never be "offended" because everything we are doing or a part of in the church should be for God and His glory and not our own in the first place.

I've never understood people getting upset, offended, or feelings hurt within the body of Christ? Why? Because everything we do is supposed to be for God and about God, so if our feelings are getting hurt or something is offending us, its because we're making it about us and not about God.  So, maybe we need to have some folks get the focus off themselves and back on God where it belongs?

Also, in the world, there are going to be legitimate things that offend us or go against our faith and convictions, but that doesn't give us a right to be mean, ugly, or hurtful towards those outside or inside of the church.  Whatever we do or say to defend God or His Word we need to do out of love and represent Him well in this world.

I think the best advice I can give anyone, is "Chill out!"  Stop being so easily offended by anything and everything.  Put your energy and focus on being the best person and child of God you can be and pick and choose your battles wisely and make sure your "offended" is legit and not because of your own ego, pride, feelings, failings, or sin.