Oct 11, 2006

my way or the highway

Divisions in the body of Christ are wrong!

It's amazing how easy it is over time to forge a belief system based on our personal interpretation of scripture supported by our dubious common sense.

We often harbor opinions of our parents, relatives, and church family without really understanding the history of these opinions. Often these opinions are embedded in us from birth and have no basis in fact, yet we are primed and more than willing to fuss and fight at the drop of a hat to defend our perception of truth with anyone daring to state an opposing viewpoint.

It's time to reach out to others who don't share our opinions, and let them know we consider them our brothers and sisters without condemning them for what we consider infractions of our "church" rules; not treating them like misguided children, but as equals in God's kingdom.

Many moons ago I honestly believed anyone not professing to be a bona fide member of "our" one and only church (Church of Christ) was apostate; thus only those of us who shared the same personal interpretation of scripture were in favor with God...you can imagine the fate of those who disagreed with us!

There are now, and will be in the future, non-essential opinions that separate Christians in the church, and we can't smugly assume we're always right while everyone else is wrong...we need hours of honest dialogue coupled with an abundance of unfeigned love for those we differ with if our goal of unity is to be realized. We need to completely abandon our my-way-or-the-highway philosophy and agree to extend our hands in fellowship to God's children, even if they (God forbid) only use one cup for communion, or pound piano keys in their worship service.

16 comments:

Milly said...

Good one Larry! I was raised in a more open view of church and life so I never had that “We are the only ones” but several of my family members do think that way. I ask once in a while for them to show me in the Bible where it says that only CoC will have the gates opened. They have yet to find it.

Alan said...

I think exclusiveness is rooted in fear. If we are mistaken on one point, it calls into question the soundness of our reasoning and our approach to scripture. We might be wrong about other things. And if we are wrong, and others right, perhaps we fear that we would lose our distinctiveness, our reason for existing as a church. Perhaps we would feel that everything we have done has been in vain.

All that fear misses the point that God has made an all-sufficient sacrifice and has adopted us as sons according to the scriptures. He made us and He knows what we are made of. The salvation He has provided to us takes all that into account. It doesn't depend on us figuring everything out just right.

Larry said...

Milly...
The church I was raised in was proud to state they were the only Christians. Over the years they have changed considerably, and now only a few hold to this belief.

There are still many churches in the San Joaquin Valley in CA that believe only those who sport a COC sign over their doors are acceptable Christians.

Larry said...

Alan...
I agree. Once a person admits they have been wrong the door is open admitting light, and just might illuminate other errors in their belief system.

Pride will also cause one to deny they are in error. It's no fun facing the fact that your wrong in something, but its essential if spiritual growth is the goal.

alyomnd said...

Rom:10:3: For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

something wrong with blogger
LEM

Anonymous said...

alyomnd hey that might be a great blogger name. be watching for it Ha :) something dreadfully wrong here. LEM

Larry said...

Alyomnd... :)
I like your new handle!

Blogger is a mess today. Tried to comment on your blog, but couldn't get to your comment page.

preacherman said...

Larry,

I totally agree that many Chrisitans have the my way or the highway attitude. We need to remember that especially with non-essentials that was should have the spirti of love. There are things God does allow us to do without having to ask permission. We have freedom. As Christians we need to understand that people aren't going to agree and have the same opinions as us, especially on matters of opinion or non-essentials. I know that I am not going to let legalists rob me of the joy and freedom that I have in Christ. I am going to love them. I am going to respec their decissions but I understand that on matters of opinion that it is between me and God. And I don't know about you but I know I glad that GOd is my judge and that their is things that I can do that I can be confident about that is just between me and Him alone.

Excellent post and thoughts as always.

My current post is dealing with this subject. Love for you to add to the discussion if you like.
Again, love reading yoru blog.

Larry said...

preacherman...
I'm with you; no one will rob us of our joy and freedom we possess in Christ.

Unfortunately there are many Christians chained to the slavery of legalism that either will not, or can't, see their way out of the mess. Perhaps if we remind them enough they will find their freedom.

I commented on your last post on essentials and non-essentials. Great post we all need to read.

Royce Ogle said...

Amen Brother!

You hit the proverbial nail on the head.

Opinions, tradition, and preferences have risen to the level of authority of Holy Writ and that my friend is vey sad.

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

Larry said...

Royce...
Thanks for the comment.

Too often our brothers and sisters are expected to carry impossible loads of personal opinions and traditions to the point they just give up.

Christ died to give us freedom; it seems reasonable to accept this free gift sans the opinions and traditions that seek to shape us into religious robots.

Thurman8er said...

Amen and amen!

The single greatest fault with the church today is its lack of unity. A lack that has been there for centuries.

But I'm convinced that it's getting better. The Spirit is working with all churches as one, honing in on the prayer our Lord prayed in the garden.

That we may all be one.

Larry said...

thurman8er...
Too often the unchurched point to our church squabbles, splits, and general disharmony as proof that Christianity is bunk.

When Christians learn to accept each other, perhaps the rest of the world will be more willing to heed our pleas for their salvation.

We have a long and tough road ahead if unity is realized, but I agree we are at least heading the right direction for a change.

japhy said...

Prayers for the unity of the whole Christian family should be offered unceasingly. I'm often curious why there are so many divisions -- how long will it take humans to get God's message "right"? Are individual denominations converging or diverging even more wildly? If the former, why did the diverge to begin with; if the latter, why, given our sources are the same?

I don't think this is how Jesus intended us to grow closer to him, by growing farther and farther from each other.

Larry said...

japhy...
When we burden our brothers and sisters with our personal opinions, and insist they follow us to the letter we invite division in the Lord's body.

There have always been, and will always be, those who seek to control God's children, and it seems improbable that this is something that will disappear soon.

There are some good signs that might lead to a more united church, but also many voices that refuse to accept anyone not in their own little space.

I doubt unity is just around the corner; if we continue our efforts all Christians may eventually realize we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

japhy said...

larry: I doubt unity is just around the corner; if we continue our efforts all Christians may eventually realize we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Oh, I agree. Unity is not something we'll reach tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade... unity is not something that will come with the snapping of fingers, but rather with the breaking of bread.