When I write about how Jesus has given me “so much” or how I have learned “so much,” this is coming from a place of appreciation for the things of God. I know that I am in no way worthy of any of it, and because I appreciate His grace and mercy, all things feel like much, even the smallest of things.
However, the more I learn, the more I see my lack. In that way, I know that though I have received much, in the sense of placing value on the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, I also know that there is more. There will always be more, because as Christians, we should be aiming for Jesus Christ.
Although we will never be good like He is good, and we will never be sons of God like Jesus is the Son of God, we are supposed to “put on Christ.” Thankfully, as with all things pertaining to our salvation, this is given to us by Jesus. He will do the work in us, transforming us from the inside out, and while we are yet sinners, we are covered by His righteousness so that we can approach God—and in so doing, how can we see anything but how much we lack?
It does not matter how far we think we have come, there is more. If there was no more to gain, then we would be complete and there would be no more need for this life. I know I want much more of this life to live, and while I live, I never want to assume that I have it all together.
I have seen what that mindset creates. There is a lot of stagnancy among Christianity. There is a lot of reliance on the knowledge of our denominations, but from where I stand, there is no single denomination that has it all right—and I have yet to hear preaching from a pastor that did not assume that their denomination was right—all the while accusing other denominations. I’m certain there must be some pastors with more humility and more loyalty to Jesus than to their denomination, but there is a general problem here.
Our denominations are not God. Jesus is.
It is a shame because in our ridged allegiance to our denominations, we are missing out on the insight that our brothers and sisters of other Christian sects have to offer. From where I stand, we agree on most of the important points of the faith, and the things we disagree on are disagreeable for a reason—and the reason is that there are things that have not been fully revealed to us.
How can we have these things revealed to us when we are blinded by loyalty to our denominations? How can we have these things revealed to us without having that knowledge immediately snatched away when we are afraid to challenge our beloved pastors? How can we have these things revealed to us if we do not put Jesus first? He is our first love, right? Or, is our denomination our first love?
From where I stand—and I know that I lack much—most things we disagree on are a matter of perspective. When I weigh it all and seek Jesus above men, I have noticed that there is an element of truth in most ideas. It’s just a matter of sorting what is true from what is not or what is incomplete. So much of our contention could be removed if we had the humility to see this—and most importantly—the loyalty to Jesus above all else to see this.
If nothing else, we should recognize that there are many things we simply do not understand, and we all have biases. There is a reason why Christians can read the same bible and see things differently, and there is wisdom of God in Christians being somewhat scattered. This is a protection for us. So, I don’t worry overmuch about it like I once did.
However, I do want all of us to consider that many of the things we hold onto are partial truths—and because of our disagreements and pride, thinking that we know it all while others do not, we will accuse our fellow servants—and that is problematic.
This makes me think of the Church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation.
“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
This reminds me of myself during the earliest parts of my own ministry (I refer to my former website and writings). I worked hard and studied hard, and I was very concerned about who was a “real” Christian. I was also very accusatory at times. In my presuming to know “so much” without seeing my lack, I was proud and I was at risk of leaving my first love—a love for what is true and hungering after the things of the Kingdom of Heaven.
We can easily become full of knowledge that puffs up, and when we do not know that we are starving, we will devour others—and we think we are doing righteously. This is not good.
I get it. I understand that we love Jesus and that is why we do things like go to church and study under our preferred denominations. I understand that we do not trust ourselves, so we think that any disagreement we have with established traditions comes from our own lack of understanding, so we trust in the educated Christian leaders and the ideas passed down through generations within Western Christianity.
I understand that many sincere pastors are caught up in a system, and they love the Lord and the brethren. They are doing their best. Yet…there is that threat of having their “candlestick removed out of its place.”
I do tend to see this removal in terms of “principalities and powers,” meaning the system of our denominations and physical church structures. However, many people will follow suit–and that is because of blind loyalty to a system above Jesus. So, it is something to consider.
At the very least, be on guard against accusing other Christians. Be on guard against thinking that you know it all already. Seek Jesus first—above all other loyalties—and let Him teach you. There is more for us to gain. There always will be. There is more to gain in understanding Christian doctrine. There is more to gain in righteousness. There is more to gain in service. There is more of Jesus to be seen revealed in us—and this process is hindered by the blindness of pride that thinks it has it all already.