Friday, December 20, 2013

Schizophrenic faith...

"When we all get to heaven... what a day of rejoicing that will be.... when we all see Jesus... we'll sing and shout the victory..."

That song was playing in my head this morning... RANDOM! But it got me thinking....

You know what I think is going to happen on that day of rejoicing? A big collective sigh of relief. You know what about? The fact that we got there even though we got a lot - a LOT - of things wrong...

I inadvertently upset the atheist set on Twitter earlier this week. I posted an article that I thought was an interesting that surmised that it's not possible for one to be a "good atheist." I think some of the reaction was misinterpretation at the title, because it wasn't saying someone couldn't be a good person and be an atheist, it talked about the contradictions in the "faith" (my word) of atheism. I don't get Twitter updates on my phone so it was hours later before I stopped back by so there was a list of angry and irritated responses by the time I got there, making lots of surmises about me and what I believe. You'd have thought they were Christians they way that they made angry and defensive generalizations. (Wink, wink - get a sense of humor my Christian friend.)

One of the "points" that came up in the ensuing discussion was the inconsistency of our faith. Someone said something to the effect of "if you got a room full or pastors/ preachers in one room and asked them all the same questions you'd get a whole variety of differing answers." And it's true.

There are so so so many topics "we" (the church) disagree on. To name a few: the gifts (uh hello, tongues?); the place of women in ministry and the church; the rapture; the last days (pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib); pre-destination vs. free will; Arminianism and Calvinism (look it up)... The list goes on and on. And our precious little "Body" is divided all over the place. If we were able to make a person-sized model, the reality is it would be a wretch of a schizophrenic chap.

And every sect of us is totally convinced we are right and our answers are absolute. And let's face facts, we can't all be right. Either the pre-tribbers or post-tribbers have a solid "I told you so" up ahead, I don't actually think we'll have any interest in speaking it when the time comes, but the opportunity will be there for someone (Me, I don't think you mid-tribbers have a shot, but maybe - you'll have the right to give me an "in your face!" if I'm mistaken.

I think it's sad that so many Christians are afraid to admit they don't have all the answers, and instead of denying that there is a certain level of "blind faith" in our faith. There's a leap we all take - for some of us it's a longer wider leap than for others, but at the end of the day, even the most studied and certain theologist or the most "sense it and believe it" prophetically gifted pentacostal has a gap between what they know and what is real.

I think the reality is the world is completely black and white, right and wrong, no subjective truth - and I don't believe that a single one of us is going to get 100% A+ on the quiz - thank GOD that we don't have to pass to get into heaven.  I'm glad that this "walk of faith" is really a "best ball" tournament in life and that only the shots Jesus is hitting are going to count for anything in the end.

That's the one thing that is the non-negotiable - Jesus.  "The Way, the Truth and the Life." He said it Himself - NO ONE comes to the Father except by Him.  Everything else has a multitude of interpretations and they just can't all be right.  And it makes me sad when I see Christian friends get all pent up and heated over their need to be absolutely right.  It hurts me because I've been there.

I've been in that place where my need to fight for what I was convinced was RIGHT and TRUE.  I've felt the rush that starts in the stomach and moves up through the shoulders into the brain.  Your blood pressure elevates and your hands begin to shake a little.  Your breath catches in your throat.  A mix of anger and intensity battles for release. You try to choose your words carefully "in Christian love" but the more you disagree the harder it gets to be peaceable and kind.  And that's just when you're disagreeing with another Christian!  Don't even get me started when you are disagreeing with a non-Christian who actually feels like a threat to your faith.

My encouragement to you is simple: when disagreeing with a fellow believer, take a deep breath.  Remember 2 things.  (1) It's OK if you're wrong. It's possible, and worst case scenario, when it's not the "Christ and Him crucified, raised from the dead on the third day" essential, there's a pretty good chance you could actually BE wrong. It's not the end of the world. (2) It's OK to disagree. It's ok to "agree to disagree"

When it comes to unbelievers (non-believers) - my encouragement to you is this, no one was ever argued into the faith. And you need to remember that just because someone doesn't believe what you believe, or even worse, if they are actually against what you believe, they are STILL NOT YOUR ENEMY. The Bible says it "we do not war against flesh and blood." And if you can stand nose to nose or even "tweet to tweet" against another, they are not the enemy. And Jesus didn't call you to come and defend Him or His word - He called you to love and serve the lost and dying world, and let the Holy Spirit be about the work of convincing.

I'm not arguing against your certainty or your beliefs, I am inviting you to at least accept some small measure of "what if." "What if I am mistaken? What if I missed the mark on some point of the plan of salvation? I have news for you, THAT is why Jesus came for you, because "sin" is just "missing the mark," and you need Jesus to fill in the shortcomings in every aspect of who you are - what you believe, what you do, how you act, what you think, how you love - it ALL falls short, and WE all fall short, and it's why Jesus came. NOT to school us, but He came to save us- from our sin and from ourselves.

I'm not negating the importance of knowing and being in God's word, it's study, meditation and instruction are all critical, but keep in mind we all make mistakes. I am not the perfect Christian, you are not the perfect Christian. We are not all-knowing, not all-understanding, and I say it again THAT'S OK.

Let us not focus on the fight and disagreement - let's focus on the love and the unity in the body - those were Christ's priorities for us. "Love God and love one another," those were His greatest commands. "SPEAK GRACE," the bible says "SEASONED with salt." The key there is the message of His love and grace trumps the nitpicky need to talk about the details of what we perceive as absolute truth (remember I am NOT talking about the plan of salvation.)

What if we were actually approachable? What if we could actually have calm conversations about the differences and confusion in what all the different denominations believe about topics that unbelievers get passionate about? What if we could reason together and not get to the contentious point that our passion overwhelms our compassion. What if our sadness over an unbeliever being lost made us love them enough that we didn't have to beat them over the head with our Bibles? What would happen?

Maybe I am completely wrong about all of this. I'm so thankful I'm getting to heaven on Jesus and not on being right - and not on convincing everyone else I'm right either.

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