In times of confusion, strife, and division, it can be easy to lose sight of what matters most.
Today, I am going to republish two posts from my former website, kindlingtruth.com.
This might not be what you expect. This is not about confusion, strife, and division among the nation in terms of politics. Instead, this has to do with confusion, strife, and division among Christians.
This is one of my controversial beliefs–and one you have to judge for yourself–but I believe that the state of our nation reflects the state of our church, and God has purposed this as a means of turning His people to Him.
Although there is a place for responsible participation in politics, I will continue to assert that Christians should focus most on our issues–and the nation will follow our example.
So, to that end, here are two articles that express my thoughts on the issues of division among the Christian church in the United States. Whether you agree with the above sentiment regarding God’s will for our nation, I hope you will find something valuable in these writings.
What Matters Most
Posted on May 16, 2019
One thing Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day for was “neglecting the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith.” As Christians, we should be trying to learn what righteous judgment looks like.
As we learn judgment, we are often faced with a question of what matters most. In most scenarios, there is the very wrong thing to do, the technically right thing, and the best thing.
Sometimes our perspective blinds us, so we think we are doing the best thing when we aren’t. Maybe we are standing by an issue that is true or good, but we are not seeing the greater picture and we make poor judgment calls that hurt people. Maybe we are dealing with an issue we are blind to, so we don’t know what is right in the first place.
Let’s go back to what Jesus called important: judgment, mercy, and faith. Let’s also consider the commandment Jesus gave us: “this is my commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you.”
If we have faith in Jesus, we should explore righteous judgment so that we can know what it really means to love others as Jesus loves us. In pursuing this, we will learn about mercy. We will also learn how to navigate difficult situations, even when dealing with a matter of what is technically right and what is best.
This can be applied to many issues for Christians. How do we apply this to Christian teachings? What matters most?
It’s easy to get hung up on one matter of doctrine or another. Some people are very focused on the sabbath day, or the rapture, or the nature of heaven and hell. Some become hung up on outward acts of righteousness, like the way we should dress or wear our hair. For others, the way we praise the Lord during our assemblies is an important matter.
There are all kinds of issues that Christians argue over. How many of these issues really matter? Of course all things have their place, but in the right order. No issue should be more important than helping others pursue Jesus more fully.
In many cases, what we are placing first in terms of importance is not in line with pursing Jesus or the commandment he gave: love one another. We might think it is. Especially if the issue we hold dear seems to be a matter of salvation.
In the end, if we put Jesus first, he will help us sort these issues out.
Jesus has to come first. He has to come before loyalty to our denominations, pastors, or affections for traditions within the faith. He has to come before the troubles and pleasures of this world. He has to come before our pride, our reputation, or other forms of self-love. If we put Jesus first and learn to love him, we cannot help but learn to love others too. That’s what he wants from us, after all.
If we love Jesus first — and by extension — our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will learn the righteous judgment we need to determine what matters most.
Take Christian doctrine, for example. What matters most? What issues affect our brethren the most? The gospel of the kingdom of heaven should be the primary focus at all times. Within the gospel there are enough issues for us to be dealing with right now. There are some dangerous misconceptions:
Many Christians believe that they can make a one time declaration of faith, go on to live without much regard for the kingdom of heaven, and still call themselves “saved.”
Many Christians view grace, the Lord’s forgiveness, and Christian liberty as cushion for living a sinful life.
Many Christians are taught that what God really wants for them is to live in worldly prosperity and to escape all suffering.
Many Christians are deterred from seeking the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit.
Many Christians are not being fed the word properly, and they are not maturing as well as they could be.
Many Christians are in danger because we spend so much time arguing over petty matters, that we have forgotten what matters most.
If Jesus matters most, and the love for the brethren matters most, then where is there room to neglect the things of the kingdom of heaven? Where is there room to take for granted the sacrifice of the Lord that brings grace, forgiveness, and liberty? Where is there room to deny the Lord dwelling in our hearts through the Spirit, thereby bringing us gifts that makes us more profitable for the kingdom of heaven?
Jesus has to matter most. If we are honest with ourselves, Jesus might not always matter most. We are self-serving by nature. We also tend to look to man by nature. We want to fit in with the crowd. We want to prosper in this world. We don’t want pesky righteousness to get in the way of our pleasures, in one regard or another. We want to look up to those exalted figures within the faith, or even government and pop culture.
God’s people have always done these things. They have always grumbled, coveted things of this world, and looked to the leaders of the world for guidance. It should not be so. If we have these problems, now is a good time to get honest with ourselves and with Jesus. Now is a good time to get our priorities straight, while we still can.
Being aware is important, but losing hope will do us no good. Jesus will not allow any who sincerely belong to him go astray for long. He will cause us to love him most, and he will teach us what that means. We will learn righteous judgment, mercy, and faith.
There is no reason for all of the division among believers, aside from the purposes of God. However, His purposes do not negate our responsibility. If we know better, if we know that something is not right, then we should do our best to do something about it. Why? Because we love Jesus and what he stands for. We love the brethren.
Here is a comforting thought: The body of Christ is not truly divided. It only seems to be. Therefore, on an individual level, we should keep something in mind. If we think that our group, church, or denomination is the one that has it all together, we are wrong. Point blank.
The body of Christ is not limited by the traditions of man. It is only contained by the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus at the center and what it means to serve those who are one with Him.
We can all learn to love Jesus most. We can all learn to love others most. If we were perfect in these things, then we would not sin. Let’s keep learning to focus on what, and most importantly WHO matters most.
The Most Important Things
Posted on December 2, 2018
I’m feeling a bit heart-broken lately, y’all. I want to kind of pour my heart out to all five or so of you who will read this.
Words are hard sometimes, you know? Some situations are complicated, and trying to communicate things in writing while accounting for important nuances can be difficult. Things get left out, especially when one feels a bit overwhelmed by it all. Thank the Lord for the peace He gives in knowing that God is in control!
I’ve been very immersed with the problem of Christian division. Like I mentioned in a recent article, this is nothing new…but my perspective on this “problem” and the “solution”varies a great deal over time.
In the past few days, I keep randomly turning to Bible passages that speak of Christians being united. Philippians 2. John 17. 1 Corinthians 1.
On top of that, I’ve been learning about Christian history and Jewish history…and the same theme repeats. The people of God become divided, scattered, and destroyed.
I don’t know what Christianity is really like in other countries. I’ve heard stories, but I can only speak to Christians in the United States. We are terribly divided.
On one hand, God is in control, right? I believe that all things are working according to His will, so that means all of this division among the brethren in the form of denominations is also His will. Yet, I feel like I should be doing some small part to unify Christians.
Then I think, what about the past? Anytime God’s people are going astray, God allows it right? Yet, there are consequences. There are also those who God preserves. How does He preserve them? He sends people to pull them out before the wrath of God is unleashed.
I think we need to get out, but how?
Do we come to a single doctrine and demand we all obey that? Goodness no! That’s what I used to think…but then I realize, anytime someone comes along demanding we all believe a single teaching, worship a certain way, or otherwise create strict rules, oppression follows. Then comes rebellion. Then comes destruction. Then comes fraction.
We will disagree on much, and that is okay.
There are only a few doctrines or Christian ideas that I will keep pushing heavily, and these are the small things–yet the most important things–the things of salvation. This includes:
- The gospel of the kingdom of heaven — in truth, and subsequently:
- The meaning of sin.
- The meaning of grace.
- The meaning of salvation.
- The Holy Spirit.
- Seeking Jesus above man.
I’m working on a article series, that I fully intend to publish, entitled “The Problem with Kings.” The whole purpose is to look at the real cause of division–and the real solution.
The real cause? Looking to man. Making “kings” out of our doctrines, our denominations, our Christian leaders–and placing these things so highly that we hold them above the Lord. In so doing, we fight. We are scattered. We rebel against one another, and the Body of Christ is destroyed. Just as all “kings” in Christian history, looking to Man or man’s wisdom leads to our demise.
Does God allow it? Does God purpose it? Certainly. Yet, there is time and place for all things. All things in our history as God’s people ultimately works out for our good. Our preservation as a faith, and our correction. Our understanding that there is ONE God–and Man is not that God!
Even in the end-times, the point is to overthrow all things that are “proud and lofty” so that the Lord alone is exalted.
Guess what? That includes our exalted men of God. Our denominations. This also includes the worldly, of course. The idolatry of Hollywood, the calling of evil good and good evil, corrupt governments, and so on.
The wrath of God is not for His people…but…we must return to being His people. We need to let go of our “kings” and return to The King of Kings.
I cannot expect people to listen. In-fact, I know they won’t. People are afraid. They are attached to their ways. They trust in “kings” when the unbelieving world comes crashing down on them. This also repeats over and over…yet…some will hear.
Some will put the Lord above all else, and in doing so, our petty matters of disagreement and division are dissolved by our love for Jesus and each other. As we seek the Holy Spirit and become baptized with the Truth in our heart, we will be one as the Son and the Father are one. We will learn to take care after the most important things: the issues of the gospel in truth. We will understand that as a body, we need each other in order to grow. We need each other’s strengths to help us conform to the image of Christ. We need each other’s understanding to form sound doctrine.
The work mentioned in this article was completed in October, 2019:
The Problem with Kings–We Are the Four Horsemen
It is important to note that the unity we strive for is in spirit by the Spirit that indwells in believers. This is not unity in a systemic or structural way. Any unity between government and religion–in a systemic and structural way–is more like the Great Whore.
A question for you to consider: Should our churches do what the government tells them to do, even when it means preventing the gathering of believers and worship? If they will bow so easily, then maybe it’s time to get out. These structures will fall eventually, and they will do everything the government tells them to do because they are non-profit governmental organizations, among other reasons. Not all, but most.
Don’t we have houses we can meet in? Of course, our gatherings would be smaller and would make no man rich and exalted off of the name of Jesus. Pity.
We don’t need to expend riches on buildings and a system that exalts a few by creating a bunch of dependents–kind of like the welfare state. Another issue our nation reflects? Perhaps.