[Part 5 of 7 – Tough Love]
Christian unlove does not only exist when it comes to the unsaved, but we even express unlove within our own faith.
When it comes to denominations, we often hate each other. And when we start debating personal doctrine, well…
…it’s almost like nobody has it right!
I’ve often heard some Pastors say that if you don’t believe in the literal seven-day creation of the world and everything in it, you aren’t a Christian.
I’ve heard the same argument about abortion, homosexuality, and baptism. Apparently, if you don’t hold the status quo doctrine of all these and more, you aren’t really saved.
And, as Rob Bell of Mars Hill put it, we have this brick-wall mentality. Our faith is a brick wall, each brick representing one doctrine, such as creationism or being pro-life.
If we take out even one brick, the entire wall is likely to collapse.
That puts us always on edge, as we tend to take up the mantle of savior from Jesus and go out bashing people over the head with our Bibles until they agree with us, which they rarely ever will.
Debating doctrine was warned against in the New Testament. It causes splits in the church, causes people to leave the faith, brings about hate, anger, strife, pain, hurts.
Should there be musical instruments in the church? Can we dance or lift our hands? Should we be playing all these rock and roll contemporary praise songs instead of the traditional hymns?
Just these few questions on the simple topic of music have sparked debates, arguments, fights, church splits, hurt feelings, anger, and broken relationships.
What is it we are trying to prove?
Why do we argue about what the rules are? Is it because we’re trying to make God happy, like a child tries to make his father happy?
Possibly, but we are less like perfect children and more like the child who points out how bad his brother is so he will look better by comparison.
God is not as hung up on these rules as we are.
It’s amazing how many Christians think they know exactly what the Bible says about an issue, without ever really trying to find something opposite of their own personal doctrine.
For instance, most Christians believe that abortion is wrong in all cases. I, on the other hand, do not. I believe that there is one situation in which abortion is allowable, if not absolutely the right thing to do.
Let me explain how I came to this conclusion, because I know not many Christians agree with me:
The Bible does not lay out a step-by-step order for family relationship priorities. However, we can still look to the Scriptures and find general principles for prioritizing our family relationships. God obviously comes first: Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” All of one’s heart, soul, and strength is to be committed to loving God, making Him the first priority.
If you are married, your spouse comes next. A married man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Christ’s first priority—after obeying and glorifying the Father—was the church. Here is an example a husband should follow: God first, then his wife. In the same way, wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). The principle is that a woman’s husband is second only to God in her priorities.
If husbands and wives are second only to God in our priorities, and since a husband and wife are one flesh (Ephesians 5:31), it stands to reason that the result of the marriage relationship—children—should be the next priority. Parents are to raise godly children who will be the next generation of those who love the Lord with all their hearts (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4), showing once again that God comes first. All other family relationships should reflect that.
And from this, I draw the conclusion that if both my wife and son were clinging to the edge of a cliff, I am Biblically called to save my wife first, even if that means my son might fall. As hard of a decision that is, it is what I believe the Bible says. Therefore, if the decision were somehow left to me, if my wife were in a situation where giving birth to our child would cause her to die, but an abortion would save her life, then the abortion would have to be my decision. Of course, if she can make the decision herself and she chooses to have the child, there is nothing wrong with that either, because she would be giving up her own life by choice.
But if the decision gets put on my shoulders, I know what I would have to choose.
I understand if you don’t agree with me, but that doesn’t make me wrong or right.
Could it be that the Bible is so open to interpretation and that there are different interpretations for some than others? Is it possible for one person to interpret Scripture to show that only static, traditional hymns may be sang in church and for another to interpret it to say that modern praise and worship is just as acceptable? I think it is. But many don’t. And if they can get so heated over an issue as simple as music, imagine the reaction to bigger issues, such as “Is abortion always against Scripture?” or “Can a Homosexual be a Christian?” or “Must you be baptized to enter Heaven?”
And when someone is in disagreement with someone else in the church, how could you not be guilty of “squashing the spirit?”
How can the Holy Spirit blaze in hearts so cold as ours?
We hate ourselves as the Body of Christ because our selfish pride makes us think that we are always right, which makes the idea of a civil debate laughable, because it hinders us from considering new ideas.
In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene pours out very expensive perfume and uses her hair to rub it on Jesus’ feet. Judas got upset, “That perfume could be sold and the money used to give to the poor!”
Of course, he was missing the point, and Jesus said as much. Good works are not as important as devotion to your God.
Salvation alone is what saves us.
So, if a praise-and-worship-singing, hand-raiser, who believes that abortion is allowable in certain cases, who is wearing street clothes and a traditional-hymn-singing, dignified man, who believes that abortion is always against Scripture, who is wearing a suit and tie both show up at Heaven’s gates having been saved and redeemed by the Blood of Christ Jesus, they both will be entering in.
And Heaven won’t be segregated by denomination.