The gay marriage debates, pentacostals/charismatics vs reformed evangelicals, hillsongs vs hymns, muslims, buddhists, catholics… I was asked last week, “why is the world so divided? Wouldn’t it be better if it was unified?”. Of course, there is a perfectly, even non biblical, explanation for this. It is impossible for all to be correct and unified simply because there are opposing claims and theories. For example, we Christians believe there is only one God and some other religion believe in many gods. So based on that alone we can’t be both right. But that is not the point of the post. I digressed…
What I really wanted to “pen” down were 2 things I both learnt and felt changed as I got deeper and deeper into this “God thing”.
1. It is totally justified to judge
…When it is within the walls of Church of course. These verses were “stolen” learning from Kat’s study:
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Cor 5:12-13, ESV)
Last week’s sermon from Steve and also his post here also expands on this. An example can also be seen from Jesus himself when He tossed out the market they made in front of His Father’s house. He got angry He judged and He purged them. We are to be discerning (judging) when it comes to wolves within the Church. False prophets. We are to judge them. “What about love?” you might ask. Steve went on to say that we should first purge them because of the poison it potentially does first. Perhaps we can “love” them later. If you had a parasite in your body, wouldn’t you get it out first before bottling it and looking at it and feed it or love it later? Or would you rather stroke it and “love” it while its sucking your body of nutrients and life?!
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:15-16a, ESV)
2. Do we love or do we hate as Christians?
Here comes the kicker that I’ve been seeing change through these years as I seek the Lord more and more. As I read the many debates. Be it gay marriage, denominations differences, calvinism vs arminianism, you name it! A good portion of the Christian response were the responses that I used to have. I used to poke at and challenge theories, other Christians and even the leaders of my old Church. I did this all in the name of “finding the truth”. I tell myself my Zeal and rigour is the passion for God. But if I am true to myself, I know it was sinfully filled with pride, fear, hatred but mostly pride. I mixed my supposedly godly quests as personal vendettas to be heard, to be acknowledged of my smarts and knowledge of the Bible. To prove to others I am better than them as a person and as a holier Christian. I do not pretend to know everyone’s heart. I don’t. But reading the comments out there on any of such debates, I can’t help but wonder how many of them are fuelled the same way as mine were.
Mind you, I am still not completely “cured” of this illness. I am still prideful. However, more and more I feel that in recent times, my first reaction to seeing blatantly non-biblical things happen before my eyes or on social media is that of aching. Yes, of sadness! Somehow my passionate-self-seeking-righteousness has been, by the Grace of God, replaced with genuine compassion for these people. I can’t explain it. It is from within. My heart condition changed…
Don’t get me wrong, I will still speak up if its critical to His kingdom or at least control myself to not say anything when I see something that is wrong but not immediately critical. Especially within the Church or among Christians because we are called to rebuke and admonish each other. But I now will do so with more meekness. Plus I now also know that rebuking is a justified act of love for each other. When I speak up, I make sure my motivations are no longer to pick a fight of right or wrong, but an act of loving the other person before doing it otherwise I don’t say or do anything and pray.