Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Don't Be Digested

For the second time in a month, my social media outlets are all abuzz with Christians upset with other Christians due to their viewpoints, as evidenced in books or curricula they have written.  Rather than reviewing the product and then intelligently and respectfully disagreeing with their conclusions, there has been name calling and mudslinging. Even worse, there have been those on the outskirts who immediately jump in to support the leader/author they happen to like more and attack the one in disagreement.  The first three chapters of I Corinthians come to mind. Here was a church who loved God and wanted to serve him, but they were just a tad screwed up.  Okay, more than a tad.  And one of the first things Paul spoke to them about was unity.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?  I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,  so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. ~I Corinthians 1:10-17

I admit to being Not-So-Super.  I struggle with this daily and yet I know God has been working on me and convicting me that "without love I am just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (I Cor. 13).  And I'm afraid that when others see Christians bickering and attacking one another, we become no more than a loud annoyance.  What makes Christianity different than any other world religion is grace and love (as evidenced in Christ's sacrifice).  The whole Gospel is wrapped up in these two things and when we, those who are supposed to be followers of Christ, do not display these traits, we do not display Christ.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. ~  I Corinthians 2:2-5

Heresy is an issue. Theology is important.  There is nothing wrong with pointing out inconsistencies in someones beliefs, or concerns that an author may be incorrect in his interpretation of Scripture.  I have the same concerns when an author twists the Bible to fit his own views or dismisses bits and pieces in favor of his own thoughts or simply misunderstands the text. Christian teachers and authors are great, but I want to be the Berean who also searches the Bible for herself and studies what it has to say, rather than taking the word of any man (or woman).  We should be able to go to a Christian leader with our concerns when needed.  We should be able to review a book or a curriculum or a DVD and share our thoughts and opinions on the viewpoint found therein.  That's exactly what we do as reviewers.  But we need to be able to do that in love, sometimes in strong disagreement, but without attacking the person. 

John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us."  But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.For he who is not against us is for us. ~Mark 9:38-40

Our unity is ultimately found in the cross, in the death and resurrection of Christ, and our faith in him.  Let's keep that in mind.  

But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.  ~Galatians 5:15

If we're so busy biting and devouring one another, how are we to be any good in this world?  And once we consume each other, digestion is the next step and well... if you follow that line of thought... we end up as waste (and that's the nice way of phrasing it). 

I don't know about you, but I don't want to end up as a piece of crap (and that's a little less nice).  I want to do my best to show Christ's love and his grace, to stand up for truth in a way that is loving and respectful, to be more than a noisy gong.  I need the reminder everyday to speak the truth in love.  It does not come naturally to me.  Maybe it's the same for you.  If so, may God use this as a reminder.  He says he uses the foolish of the world and I'm right here, ready.


Lizzie said...

Amen Lori. I can't believe the hoopla again. Sigh. Wait, no, I guess I can, you wouldn't believe the attacks on our household. The enemy is raging about everywhere.

Heather said...

Yes. And, yes! Great post. Some of us want to know facts and details w/o all the feelings, too.

Tess said...

Lori, Thanks for this post! I am just aghast at what I've been seeing. You quoted the Bible verse my husband and I were using to discuss this topic (the one in Mark). Great post!

ssmurray5 said...

This says it for me:

Lori said...

Wow, Shirley. I'm not sure you read my post as intended. I'm not saying we shouldn't name names or stand for truth. I'm saying we should do this in love without attacking the person. We need to read and follow the whole Bible, and speaking truth in love cannot just be dismissed as "effeminate Christianity" (what the heck does that mean anyway? So if someone mentions love, they're suddenly too "girly". Huh, not seeing that attitude from Christ). It also concerns me that he comes to the conclusion that if someone says we need to be loving, we do not read our Bible or follow Christ? Those are some pretty hefty conclusions to be making based on very little information.

My post was pointing out the need to speak the truth, state issues with the book, teachings, whatever in a loving manner. I will stand for truth but no, I don't believe I have to "eat my own" to do that. When the Bible lists the fruits of the Spirit and says the greatest of these is love, I take that seriously. When it says love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself, I take that literally. And I do believe that if we were to get those two things right, everything else would follow. I respect you as a homeschooling friend and I hope it doesn't make you think less of me, but that's where I stand.

BTW, I was not targeting the Hams in my post, but meant it more as a general caution to anyone involved in these kinds of things, as this is the second incident of this kind in a month. Speak truth. By all means, speak truth. But leave the snark for humor and "attack" the belief itself rather than the person.

Blossom said...

Here I'm like an ostrich in the sand...I've no idea what the 'hoopla' is about... I keep missing it I suppose. And I don't know if that's good or bad :/

Lori said...

I wrote the post based solely on Twitter and Facebook updates. I didn't want to get into all of it. Spent some time reading the blog linked in the comment above. Wished I hadn't. I've always respected Ken Ham, I can't respect his son based on his blog posts. This makes me sad.

I decided I'd better read up on the hoopla, and I did and I'm not taking "sides" as I have no way of knowing what really happened. But honestly, I think I would have rather remained an ostrich.


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