Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A thought or two

Sometimes I feel like a spiritual outcast. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and never left the Southern Baptist realm. It's not that I agree with every tiny viewpoint of the convention but I agree with it as a whole and find that it, to me, is the most in line with my understanding of scripture. But the older I get the more I feel like some of my viewpoints are overlooked and even shunned by the traditional, conservative way of thinking that has been ingrained in us for so long. Lately God has been teaching me some things along this line, and I wanted to put them out here simply so they quit swirling around my brain with no where to go.

"Again I say, don't get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth." ~ 2 Timothy 2: 23-25

That sentence - "don't get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights." - well it makes me think. What are we doing, as churches and denominations, when we choose to have petty disagreements about spiritual things? Yes, we must agree on the "big" stuff - Jesus, his death and resurrection, salvation in Christ alone, etc - but does the other stuff matter so much that we must have discord and a lack of love for other denominations? Then there's the individual aspect of it. It's such a fine line of speaking truth and being verbally abusive. I realize that last sentence sounds harsh, but its true I believe. See, when you look further in this passage it says to "gently instruct" and "perhaps God will change..." "Gently instruct" does not, in my simple opinion, mean telling a homosexual with whom you have no connection that they are going to hell for their lifestyle. For you see, a homosexual is no more going to hell for their lifestyle than I once was for my lifestyle. That's not to say that homosexuality is not sin, for the Bible is rather clear on that. But the Bible also clearly states that lying, lust, overeating, stealing, killing, and putting anything above the Almighty God (along with other things) are sin. So, if you have ever lied then you are as sinful as someone living in homosexuality or addiction or as a murderer. It is only by accepting that God's grace that we are anything of value. Just as God alone had the ability to change our hearts, He alone can save others. The intensity of our words do not change a heart so we must "be patient with difficult people" - both our brothers and sisters in Christ within our denomination, outside of our denomination, and even the lost and dying of this world.

"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death, but letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws , and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God." ~Romans 8:5-8

Ultimately, the first part of vs 5 is saying lost people will act like lost people! We cannot hold the lost of this world to the same standards of actions and thinking that we are held to. We should not (again, in my simple opinion) get fired up and angered with lost people when they embrace sin and act as if it's not a big deal. We should be angered - but with Satan the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy from unsuspecting people who don't know what is even being stolen from them. We should not get disgusted with individuals who are caught up in sinful lifestyles and behaviors. We should be disgusted with the perversion that Satan has devised, but saddened for the individual. Saddened - not angry. For you see, just as the eunuch could not understand what he was reading until it was explained to him, a lost person cannot be expected to understand they are living in sin unless it is revealed to them by the Lord as we gently instruct. "For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God."

Instead of pointing out the sin of others whom we don't even know, shouldn't we instead pray for God to reveal Himself to those lost and dying? Shouldn't we instead pray for Satan to be bound and the lost to be released from the control of their sinful nature? And yes, as the Lord gives us opportunities, to teach and gently instruct so that others can experience the freedom from bondage we've experienced.


Shannon said...

Beautifully and lovingly said. Amen. Amen. Amen.

The Blessed Wife said...

Amen! Unity in the essentials and freedom in the non-essentials. Finally, someone who has put into words (as Shannon says) beautifully what so many feel.

rachel said...

hi rachel,
just wanted you to know your article is up over at the preacher's wife. thanks for your great submission!