How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.

Monday, January 16, 2012

When Being "Right" Can Be Really, Really Wrong

  "...he [Satan] enlists blame and accusation as his co-conspirators, and under his subtle influence the people of God often turn on one another rather than rally in unity against our REAL enemy."(emphasis mine)  This thought has had me pondering since I read it in Bible study this week.  Bizarrely, it hit me square in the face recently as I simply went looking for a picture of the Bible study I am currently in to "pin" on Pinterest.  I inadvertently happened upon a blog devoted to "critiquing" Beth Moore.  Let me tell you, it got pretty ugly.  Her main sins were:  she taught men, she was too emotional, and she was a "premillenialist" (She believes in a pre-trib rapture).  She was called "false teacher" over and over.  When a woman had the courage to write in her defense and give her testimony of a changed life because of Beth Moore's ministry, she was slammed for not giving the credit to Jesus.  I am certain if Jesus was being attacked, this woman would have come to His defense even more courageously, but He wasn't the subject of this blog...NOT AT ALL.  

As I read this blog, my thoughts went to pastor David Parker's recent teaching on unity.  David said, "God is gifting and growing us in Christ so that we might mature together and reach 'unity in the faith' as we follow Him.  Being united in the faith means that we occupy substantial common ground together in our understanding of faith's essential content, character and conduct," and we accept other believers "without passing judgement on disputable matters."  

I remember years ago someone asked Brent Rue, the pastor of  the Desert Vineyard in those days, if he was "pre-trib or post-trib."  He smiled at them and said, "It really doesn't matter what I believe or anyone believes...its going to happen when God says and that's that."  A disputable matter...why waste time on it?

In David's teaching, he emphasized the "substantial common ground" we all have as Christ's followers.  There is "essential content" in our faith in Jesus we all is  non-negotiable and constant. There is "essential character" we all should have as expressed in Galatians 5:22.  And there is "essential conduct" we all should be showing as we live out our lives in worshipping, serving, giving and in relationship to others.

What if we did just that?  

What if we concentrated on the "substantial common ground"  we have with each other in our faith in Jesus as Savior instead of all the "disputable matters" that really aren't worth the disunity and hurt they cause to the person and the church?

What if we all practiced the character God has said should be in someone filled with His Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  

What if our everyday conduct was ruled by the Spirit in us, expressed in love through our faith in Jesus to all we came in contact with?

Everything would change...everything.

That is exactly what happened in the early church.  They grew and matured in their relationship with Jesus and in turn grew in unity with other believers.  They let the disputable matters go (and you know they had different opinions on matters in the church) and continually refocused the attention of all back to the Jesus.

We have to be so watchful for the subtlety of Satan as he works to distract us from what is valuable in this one life we have to live.  Being "right" is a desire we all have...practically from the womb.  I KNOW I do and I have to push that monster down in me all the time.  Isn't it unnerving that we have an enemy who wants us to be "right" and to defend that "rightness" until we have offended, hurt and sometimes even destroyed the faith of a brother or sister in Christ.  Here's the irony of this situation:  Our fight for what is right can lead to something destructively wrong in what truly matters in life.  

David asked the question:  "When people see you, do they see a person who lives out their faith expressed through love?  joy? peace? patience? kindness?  goodness?  faithfulness?  gentleness?  self-control?"  These are what we should be growing in day by day, over the months and years as we follow our precious Savior.  Focus on these and unity can't help but become a reality in our lives and our relationships.  Then we will stand firm in the indisputable, essential areas of our faith, but we will do it with a thought toward peace, joy in the truth (not in being "right"), in patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness, being faithful to the truth but having the self-control to listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom in the expression of it.  

Whenever I am at the bridal shower of a new young bride to be and one of the shower activities is to give some "words of wisdom" to the bride, I always write the same sentiment..."Let the little things go."  Some of the biggest most horrendous arguments in my marriage to Peter  have been over some really ridiculous things.  One especially huge fight was over whether or not the insurance salesman came over on a Wednesday night or a Thursday night the prior week.  Peter and I slept separately that night and practiced some pretty amazing "silent treatment" for a few days.  (Well, amazing that I could do it, not so much an accomplishment for Peter, but when I was "right," I could do the impossible to prove it!)  Another "memorable" fight was over who had the most clothes and why.  Our daughter, Kirsti, is the one who broke up that argument with one simple statement:  "I can't believe my parents are arguing over who has the most clothes."  In that moment both Peter and I realized who was right...Kirsti.  We were being pretty silly and causing a lousy feeling to pervade the entire family.  Much like the faultfinding Christian brothers and sisters do to each other and the Church.  

Here's an indisputable truth.  Jesus said,  "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."  (Matthew 5:9)   Our follow Jesus, love others, live our lives so our love of God is obvious and to bring peace, as best as we can.

Love to you this week, my friends!


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