Christians have “Truth” but they often miss the point entirely. It’s like the guy who drives a petrol hogging, smog belching SUV but uses recycled-paper checks to pay the bill. You don’t have to be ecologically minded to see the contradiction. It appeases Green philosophies in one way and abuses them in another. It is like putting water in a bucket that has a large hole in the bottom. What’s the point?
Christians are guilty of this faulty logic also. We love the truth, or at least we give that idea lip surface often and very loudly, but the question is, which truth do we love most and better yet, why do you love it? What’s your purpose? What’s the point?
Is the Truth you love a tool or a weapon? Does the truth you love enable diverse Christian groups to work together on common projects or does it turn these groups against each other?
Does the truth you love bridge the gap between God and the people who don’t know Him or does it further alienate the relationship?
Do you worship God or the thoughts you entertain about Him?
Truth is important but it is never the point and the variations are limitless. There are as many different versions as there are groups to promote them. Consider the following partial list of possibilities:
- Pre-millennialism or a-millennialism or post-millennialism. In reality, even more versions to choose from today and probably more yet to be developed.
- Pre-trib or mid-trib or post-trib rapture. Obviously, for some, no tribulation or rapture at all.
- Calvinism or Arminianism (or something in-between).
- Holy Spirit baptism simultaneous with salvation or subsequent to salvation, accompanied with tongues or not, including an infusion of power or not. Maybe an indwelling and not a baptism at all.
- Healing on demand or healing only sometimes or no healing at all.
- Healing miraculously or medically.
- Church is local (visible) or universal (invisible) or both, or replaced with kingdom concepts altogether.
- Divorce never sanctioned (remarriage never allowed), sanctioned sometimes (remarriage may or may not be allowed) or just dealt with graciously and kindly when it happens.
- Tithing or no tithing (in which case you give more).
And many other ideas have been canonized involving what you can or cannot wear, what you can or cannot eat (or drink), where you can or cannot go, words you can or cannot say, how you act in church (quiet or loud, responsive readings or impulsive responses, kneeling or standing, head up or bowed, etc.).
To be a part of any particular group you must comply with THEIR particular way of truth and, loyal compliance with one way often involves an explicit denial of every other way.
In the process, friction is generated and conflict escalates…between brothers. Whatever the point is, we have missed it entirely.
Here is a truth for you; there are many very good Christians representing every variation of the issues mentioned (not just Christians, they are good Christians). They love the Lord and His Word as much as any other Christian. They are not enemies, heretics, apostates or infidels. They differ, yes, but they still qualify as Christian brothers and sisters. They are family.
Some people, however, consider it their primary goal to articulate arguments not only for what they believe is THE truth but against everything else. And they generally do a passable job on most issues but instead of clearing the air it is like pouring fuel on the fire.
In this post, I am purposely not mentioning any particulars of my belief system because once I do, every person of an opposing or different opinion may become alienated from the discussion. But, I’m not advocating a doctrinal vacuum. I do believe some things very strongly and suggest you should as well but not at the expense of the main point.
Our fascination with “Truth,” as we understand it, has created a kind of darkness which Jesus warned against. He said we must have a single focus. Instead, all the issues over which we argue have blurred our vision. It has blinded us to the main point.
The more right we think we are, the more belligerent we become. Issues are forced which don’t really count and people get hurt in the process. Fewer people are reached, humility is down played, consideration and respect for others is lost and ministry becomes a holy huddle rather than a real outreach to others.
According to history, this trend is not new. For ages Christians have been contending with each other (sometimes killing each other) over doctrinal differences. Instead of seeing the historical conflict for what it was, missing the point, we institutionalized it. We teach the conflict and embrace the skirmish. In the process, we miss the point.
We don’t easily get it but, fortunately, Jesus made THE point several times during His ministry. He said it different ways, managed to draw it out of others and New Testament writers repeated it later after Jesus’ ascension. What is it??? Consider the following:
1. You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.
2. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
3. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.
4. Love one another with a pure heart fervently.
5. Love your enemies.
6. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.
Any one of these statements alone makes the point. All of them together are condemning for anyone who misses it. You should never be ashamed of what you believe but be sure you don’t sincerely miss the point in the process.
Peter mentioned a list of eight things we should add to our faith. The last two on the list are “brotherly kindness” and “love” both of which are more relational than academic.
Eric Brahm, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, wrote an essay discussing the relationship between religion and conflict. He names several different religions and was very fair in his discussion. Of the many causes of religious conflict mentioned in the essay one was the modern trend to emphasize the individual over the group. You can read his essay here.
Here is the fact: Truth enables you to serve, care about and work with others better. It emphasizes the relationship and downplays the difference. If that isn’t the case you might be missing the point. What do you THINK!AboutIt?