Sectarianism is Foolish/Forbid him not!

Sectarianism 

adj. 1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect.                                                                             2. Adhering or confined to the dogmatic limits of a sect or denomination; partisan.  FreeDictionary.com

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Bibletruths.org

“… sectarianism does not spring full grown from the ground. It is sown as a seed of self-chosen opinion, which grows into a division, and ultimately reaps, sectarianism. The sin of sectarianism is one of the worst sins. The Apostle Paul told us to “look at, regard attentively, take heed, beware, consider” those who behaved this way and “refuse, reject, decline, shun, avoid” them.”Bibletruths.org

Here is an example in the 9th Chapter of the Book of Mark …

….What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”
34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.
35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them,
37 Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
38 Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”
39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.
40 For he who is not against us is on our side.
41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

Insight from a couple commentaries …

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:
“The disciple desired to show, as in self-vindication, that he not only “received” his Master, but that he was unwilling to “receive” any who did not openly follow Him as a disciple. The fact of which he speaks is significant historically as indicating that one of the effects of our Lord’s work had been to stir up and quicken the spiritual powers of men outside the range of the company of disciples that gathered round Him. They believed in Him, or they would not have used His Name. They were fellow-workers with Him, for they were seeking to rescue the souls of men from frenzy and despair. Their faith was effective, for, as the narrative implies, they not only claimed the power to cast out demons, but did cast them out.”
…..
The true disciples of Christ are to hinder no one who is really doing His work. The very fact that they do it will bring with it reverence and sympathy.”
…..
“St. Paul rejoiced that every way Christ was preached”
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. Philippians 1:18
Benson Commentary
“But to confine religion to them that follow us, is a narrowness of spirit which we should avoid and abhor.”
 “Forbid him not — Neither directly nor indirectly discourage or hinder any man, who brings sinners from the power of Satan to God, because he followeth not us, in opinions, modes of worship, or any thing else which does not affect the essence of religion. For he that is not against us, is for us — Our Lord had formerly said, He that is not with me, is against me…”
Also, previously the disciples were not able to cast out a demon, so it must have been a real dissonance to them that they were Jesus chosen disciples–which they were likely proud of — but couldn’t cast out a demon like another person, who likely heard the gospel, but wasn’t as ‘set apart’ as them, or still a ‘child in christ.’ I wonder how often churches today who are proud of their status (historical, traditions, size) notice what the Lord is doing through smaller, less ‘impressive’ churches? (or smaller stricter, elitist churches towards the larger ‘liberal’ ones)
And speaking of churches, notice how ‘factions’ are seen as a deed of the flesh?
(factions: a small, organized, dissenting group within a larger one, especially in politics)
19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Just a thought, but I feel that Jesus is humorously upping the ante here (below), He speaks previously of the pride of sectarianism, and deals with the envy of wanting to be best in the kingdom,  followed by suggesting that they amputate their limbs to avoid sin! The Lord knows that even our hearts are deceitfully wicked and our minds can have wicked thoughts – so the only way that we could avoid sin on our own accord is to be a maimed vegetable at best, but more likely dead. He reveals to them their lunacy of their self vindication.  But since we know that that is not the route to salvation, the main point he’s getting at us  …..“Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

Now all this brings me to my final/foundational thought of this blog – the Doctrine of Separation, which is apparently based on 2 Corinthians:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate [emphasis added], saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you (2 Cor 6:14-17 KJV).”

“Unfortunately, some churches and individuals use it bolster a sectarian mindset which excludes from fellowship any that differ, even in the slightest way, and have gone to great lengths to separate from others who do not strictly observe certain “fundamentals” of the faith.” TheRecoveringLegalist/Separation

It is as though we forget that they were born again of the same spirit, washed in the same blood, and in also written in the Book of Life!

So in closing, whenever we are tempted to not welcome a fellow believer because of a difference in denomination or preference, remember the words of Jesus: “Forbid Him Not!”

Mini Evangelism (attempt) Story – Rhetorical Questions

I’ll be honest, when I try to engage people on the street, what typically happens is that people like to ask us rhetorical questions or questions that are really just statements, or insults under the poor guise of a question, so that they can try to put us in our place. These are usually based upon false prejudgements and assumptions about our character, what Christianity is, and what the Bible says.

Sometimes it feels like people take the worst example of a person who calls themself a Christian, i.e. Westboro Baptist Church member, an internet troll, a scandalized preacher, or a Christian they’ve personally encountered and had a bad experience with, and they place all those attributes on us. They expect us to scream at them, slander them, be self-righteous, be wildly out of our minds, etc –and when we don’t react as the devil they want us to be, they reach for another angle or provocation that they hope will stir us up enough to snap. Thankfully we don’t act that way, but we do offend people by speaking the truth, no matter how gently.

Here is an example of an conversation my husband and I had with a group of twenty-something people, with a ‘Rhetorical-Question-Statement’.

Person 1: “Excuse me? I just have a question for you.”

Me: “Sure, I’ll try my best to answer it.”

Person 1: “As a Christian, what to do you think about homophobia?” (smugly asked)

Me: “I don’t think I understand your question (I do), and that’s kind of a strange thing to talk about, because I don’t think most people are intensely afraid of gay people.”

Person 1: “oh c’mon you know what I’m talking about”

Me: “If your asking me if we hate gay people, then the answer is no.”

My Husband: “But with that said, the Bible does say that homosexuality is a sin, and a man should not lie with a man as he would with a woman.”

crowd: (laughs) “The bible.” (said derisively)

Person 1: “So you hate gay people.”

Me: “no, we don’t. But the primary reason we are out here, is to share the good news of…”

Person 2: (cuts me off as I’m about to share the gospel) “So would you be friends with a gay person. Do you have gay friends?”

My Husband: “My brother is gay.”

Person 2: “And you still think that it’s a sin? What if he got married, would you go to his wedding?”

My Husband: “It’s not that this is just my opinion that I’ve made up. The Bible says that it is a sin or an abomination. And no, I would not go to my brother’s wedding.”

Crowd: (looks offended, then satisfied that they got my husband to say something that coincides with their picture of an intolerant Christian) “Wow”

Person 1: “So you don’t love your brother enough to support him in marrying the one he loves. Can’t you just put your religion aside for him?” (going back to rhetorical)

My Husband and I: “Of course we love him.”

Person 1: “Thats all we needed to know” (they all walk away)

So there you have it. I’m sure that any believer who just read that, especially those who are experienced with evangelism of any kind can speculate as to what we could have done differently, or could appreciate the challenge of speaking to this group.

It is really easy to get sidetracked or dragged into conversations about specific sin, and never get to talking about the penalty of sin, and the grace of salvation. I usually answer these types of questions as briefly as possible, so that I can move on to the gospel. This could be a great error or a wise choice – sometimes it depends on the conversation, and how much time you have with said person.It is important to listen, but also important to make sure that you’re not letting one person take over the conversation. But overall, it is of great importance to speak the truth in love.

Conversations like these usually make me feel defeated in the end. Like I just wasted my time, and was made the fool. But even when I do get the opportunity to share the gospel, in a fuller conversation, often times it ultimately goes back to the other person not being able to let go of a specific sin, or the approval of it in others. Sometimes it feels like beating a dead horse.

But when these brief exchanges do happen, they are only a blip in the larger scene, where we continue to share with other people, through a tract, open-air preaching, etc and the Word of God might just plant into good soil, or be watered.

 

Jesus is dear to me

 

Jesus is dear to me, and I’m growing in love for Him more each day, but sometimes I forget that He is not dear to others. On my personal Facebook account I have many old friends and acquaintances that I made before I knew the Lord, therefore Most of them do not know him still.  It breaks my heart to see how they speak about Him with such contempt, while denying His existence. It is different when I evangelize strangers, and they mock Him, because the hurt does not reach as deep.

I will admit that I am slack in praying for them, so maybe this is the push I need to do so. In my heart I fear the seemingly inevitable loss of them all, and I wonder how much longer will they ‘tolerate’ me before they see me as an ‘undesirable.’ And as I pray, (just moments ago), it came to mind that instead of focusing on my possible loss of them, that I should focus on their lostness, and pray for their Salvation,in love.

Lord, help me to take the focus off my pain, and instead, help me to attend to the needs of others. Bring to mind your power to convict of sin and save sinners. Help me to not distance myself from those need you desperately! Spur me on to pray more. May you receive the reward of your suffering.

Strictness or Sanctification?

There have been some thoughts furiously floating around in my head..

Am I resisting a push towards Sanctification, or a Strict Structure?

  • If I notice strictness in my church, should I just let go and trust the direction things are going? or trust that there are good reasons behind the way things are going?
  • If I notice strictness in my church, should I ultimately question whether or not following this strictness is somehow God’s will?
  • Am I ultimately being obedient to Christ or to a leader/system?

… I guess that even the most well intentioned church structure, can hinder a Christian’s faith. The foundation of our lives is our obedience to Christ, and sometimes that comes in conflict with the direction that others proscribe.

  • If I notice that leaders and systems claim to have certain things “worked-out,”should I still be in a questioning mindset? What if I come to a different conclusion? Am I being a rebel if differ? And who am I being a rebel to?
  • If I notice that leaders and systems can pin-point the best “practices and disciplines” to their mental capability should I willfully submit, when my heart is elsewhere?

God looks at our heart, and man looks at the outward appearance. Better a ineloquent prayer or song, or an unscheduled prayer life with my sincerity, then a rigid, scheduled prayer out of heartless duty.

Image result for 1 samuel 16:7

And I ask myself, again, what if these practices are good? And what if someday, my life will have more “discipline,” and I will have a scheduled prayer time – that is never missed, and a scheduled bible time, but cannot do so in the mean time? Am I being rebellious? or real?
Is it satisfactory to pray regularly but not a certain time of the day?

  • If I notice that everyone in my church prays for 50-80+ people each, out-loud, on a rotating and scheduled prayer list and I cannot do it sincerely — Who am I displeasing? my church family? Myself? God?
  • Is it fine to pray for a fraction of that list so that I can pray thoughtfully?
  • Is it fine to pray for people not on that list?

It is tricky, because prayer in itself is good, and regular prayer is even better, plus praying for many people is great –but my heart’ just ain’t in it when its done that way!  God is not angry with me. This is the right kind of rebellion. Rebelling out of the humble realization that I cannot complete this task with the right motives. And even when I pray for an enablement to pray for so many people, my spirit stirs and spurs up red flags, and stop-signs. Image result for red flag

Perfectionism and Legalism

  • If I notice that there is disdain for certain versions of the bible, but I find them easier to read, and therefore more edifying, should I be edified or ignorant and conformed?

…I just don’t believe in putting a stumbling block in place of understanding the Bible. I don’t care if a king commissioned a certain bible, if I cannot understand it, if it uses outdated words, and awkward sentence structures, to whose benefit is it?

When I ask myself these questions, does it reveal who or what has too much power and influence over me? And how did it come to this? Am I going with an unspoken current of submission to man?

Let me fix my gaze back upon the Lord and His Word, so that I aim to please Him and no other!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

A Christian is…

“A Christian is not a person who simply wears a cross or said a prayer in the past that has no effect on their life today. It is is a person who is engaged in an ongoing, constant belief, looking to Jesus as the source of life and strength. It is one who Jesus has […]

The Love and Self-Sufficiency of God

“Isn’t it amazing how the Angels fell, yet God did not give them a savior? That ought to tell us something. He didn’t have to send one to us either. If God had saved no man He would still be God. He owes nothing to Man.” – Paul Washer, The Love of God sermon

“Were all human beings suddenly to become blind, still the sun would shine by day and the stars by night, for these owe nothing to the millions who benefit from their light. So, were every man on earth to become atheist, it could not affect God in any way. He is what He is in Himself without regard to any other. To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away.” – A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, Chapter 6 The Self-Sufficiency of God.

But even though God does not need us, He still provided us with a savior so that we can be made worthy of Him and be with Him into eternity. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16