Well here we are at the end of our road trip, our journey of discovery where we explored that little theory I posed last week. I hope you have enjoyed the trip we have taken together, whether you like my theory or not, for if nothing else, we considered some interesting topics, topics that deserve our thought from time to time.
The other day, Sunday to be exact, I was speaking with another guy about a class we had just left. It was a history class on a certain sequence of events that took place in the first decade of the 20th century. There were these guys who decided to write papers, articles, publish magazines and essays on some very important issues within the church. Some of these great issues were the types of buildings people should worship in, whether or not you can have musical instruments in worship, Missionary Societies, and various other issues of a similar nature. In those days, they postulated significant Biblical arguments either in support of these things or in opposition to these things; both sides of these debates participated. Both sides were convinced of their rightness, both sides were very assertive… And they succeeded in dividing God’s people on a very large-scale. Some of these debates had been going on for 40 years, and when they ended… or have they? …many Christian brothers were not on speaking terms.
All during these decades, church leaders were arguing, debating, fighting, disputing over these kinds of things, destroying their relationships, neglecting God’s priorities: Love God, love your neighbor, make disciples… We had to agree that while these things may have been important to the people in the fight, they were nowhere to be found in Scripture, and couldn’t be considered God’s priorities. We also agreed that there are some things about which the Bible is not very clear, but that the things that are important to God are very clear indeed in the Scriptures. One of those things about which the Bible is quite clear is argument, disputes, dissentions and divisions.
What I take from that fact is that there are many things upon which Christians may disagree, but that we must not indulge our selfish pride and divide God’s church. Can we practically come to blows with each other over some fine point of doctrine, when we are in His presence? Will we dispute with our neighbor to such a degree that we cannot have fellowship with him, when we are supposed to love him? Will we damage the Body of Christ while proclaiming that we love Him? The thing those guys back in the 1900’s were really fighting over, were really their traditions, anyway. Why oh why do we act this way so often?
I think we do this because it is our natural human nature. People argue about everything, from sports to movies, to music, to poitics and sadly to the Bible. Pride, self…rebellion, wanting to be like the Most High God… This is a good time to insert the original theory…
“Christian theology is not particularly difficult to understand. Its precepts and premises are fairly simple, it was given to “regular” guys to share with the world, and they did it. Yes, of course they had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, but then so do we. Yet we love to argue, follow tradition and form to avoid spiritual growth and reaching out, because they are counter-intuitive, and the fact that they are counter-intuitive is exactly the point of all things being new, for our human intuition isn’t new, it’s the old thing that Jesus died to free us from.”
God’s ways are not like our natural ways and inclinations. In Christ, all things are new, the old is gone and the new has arrived. Our “natural man” has other ideas, and desperately tries to move us away from God’s path, for God’s path is new, strange, scary and counter-intuitive. The “natural man” would rather keep things the way they’ve always been, so he yearns for disputes, or safe havens like predictability, traditions, paperwork, rules, regulations to avoid leaving the old comfort zone, where spiritual growth is not to be found. Yes sir, that really is the point, afer it’s all been said and done.
Well dear reader, that’s about all she wrote! Agree or disagree, that’s up to you. In either case, I’ll end with three questions as promised:
1. Is God speaking to you in this study?
2. If so, what is He saying?
3. What are you going to do about it?
It’s been a great pleasure having you along, see you next time!