Monday, May 22, 2006

I am trying to determine how debating fine points of doctrine really demonstrates Christian love to the lost. Are we more focused on religion and self-righteousness, like the Pharisee of Luke 18 than we are on loving others? Are we like the nation of Israel prophesied against in Isaiah 58:1-14, where God says stop focusing on religion and start focusing on things like feeding the hungry? I'd really like to see others' thoughts on this.

By focusing on things that are cultural or religious practices, are we neglecting the fact that God is God and we are human? I do not deny that we have Christ in us or that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, or that the Spirit can reveal to us the meaning of scripture, but our relationship with God is primarily that--each individual's personal relationship with God. And, as C.S. Lewis emphasized through Lucy and Aslan, each human's story and relationship with Him is unique to that individual, and what one individual may eat or drink or not eat or not drink, or what one individual may believe about a nonessential aspect of our faith (whatever that means) versus another is really more about God working in that individual's life to make him or her more like Christ.

Moreover, it strikes me that if we are focused on someone else's beliefs or practices we are neglecting the race we are supposed to be running. No runner wins by looking over their shoulder at the other racers. God desires that we fix our eyes on Him and Him alone and then to allow Him, as we offer ourselves to Him, to transform our lives. And, even by focusing on a practice or doctrine are we in some way not taking our eyes off of Him or elevating something to idol status? And do we become like the Pharisee who says, "Thank God I am not like that sinner, who believes that it is okay to drink alcohol" or "who believes it is okay to accept someone baptized in that way" or "who believes that it may not have been six literal days of Creation" or "[fill in the blank doctrine]"? God's love alone saves others, not the law or anyone's rendition of doctrine. And, if we think our doctrine can save us then we have moved God off the throne and placed ourselves there, the sin that humanity has been battling since Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God. Our goal and hope and prayer should be that the love He instills in us will radiate to others and thereby bring Him glory and demonstrate to others the One True Source of Love, Life, and Acceptance.

It is disconcerting to men and women who simply want to love God and grow to be more like Christ to see leaders of churches go to task over matters that may ultimately be insignificant. Furthermore, it turns away lost men and women who may otherwise be seeking God's love. Sure, some may fear the slippery slope. Or, some might say if you don't have the faith to believe "X" then it shows you don't have the faith to believe "Y." And, yes, many fear that we are going to succumb to picking and choosing what we accept from the Scripture and what we don't. But, I would challenge that we all already do that at some level. And, it scares me when someone appears to to proclaim something as true in the name of the Lord and then rejects any other interpretation or apology... Bottom line, it is not demonstrating Christ. They don't know we are Christians by our doctrine. They don't know we are Christians by our lines. They don't know we are Christians by our lipservice to any particular creed. They will know we are Christians by our love. How can we better show our love??? How can we follow the commands to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and love our neighbors as ourselves???

1 comment:

annie said...

Good post. Loved the idea of never winning the race by watching what others are doing. Will use it next Sun. And weren't you shocked!? Who knew that HS was familiar with the terms "temper" and "balance?" If only he would put them into practice.