Approaching our brethren as fellow students of Jesus and the Apostles and not as their superiors opens communication.
If you have a Christian blog or some other form of educational/exhorting/edifying public ministry, then you probably have something to share. That’s good. I have things to share too.
I was just thinking about the way we approach one another in our desire to know Jesus and serve one another. I think of how I have approached people in the past and how some have approached me. I think about what works and what doesn’t—assuming that the goal is to come to a better understanding of the truth and fellowship with one another in Christ Jesus.
If we think that we have our understanding all wrapped up, then we are probably going to have a critical eye towards our fellow servants. We will listen to what they have to say and measure it against our perspectives. If they do not fit into our scope of understanding, we might dismiss them. We also might approach our fellow servants as one who needs to be instructed by us, not the other way around, thereby shutting our ears to hearing what insight our fellow servants might have that will add to us in some way.
We think we are superior in our understanding (I speak hypothetically). We might not think that we are superior Christians. We might know that any good thing we have came from Jesus, therefore any good thing we have is of Him and not ourselves. Yet, we might forget that only Jesus has the fullness of the Spirit of God. We reach fullness not by being superior to our fellow servants, but by joining with them in humility—not as superiors—but as fellow students.
If we approach our brethren as fellow students instead of as superiors, then we are coming to them expecting to learn something new, or at least have our understanding challenged. We are then able to hear opposing views, take out what truth we might glean from them as the Spirit aids in our discernment abilities, and help one another come to a fuller understanding of what Christian living looks like.
The first example—one who is a superior instead of a student—is an easy trap to fall into. I fell into that for a time. The zeal of a convert paired with the pride of youth can be a foolish combination. The same is also true for those who have many years of experience; they think they are superior by sheer means of exposure and age, forgetting that the Spirit of God can work in anyone as the Lord wills, often favoring the “babes” instead of the proud elders who are set in their ways and no longer teachable.
Jesus said that we must be as little children, humble and eager for instruction. That’s how I take it. However, we also should seek to have our “senses exercised to discern good and evil” so that we can “test the spirits” whether they are of God or not. There are many false teachings, false prophets, and so forth. We cannot just accept anything as Christian truths. Learning the scriptures is a good way to protect ourselves from false teachings.
However, aside from Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of our sins, we should do our best to be humble and patient with the differing views of our brethren. I’ve had to come to this point because my views seem to agree with all in part and disagree with all in part. So, this is nothing for me to boast about. My perspective came about out of necessity because it was either this or consider most of the Christian world to be heretical.
I took the later stance for a short time, and there was no peace in that. I have also experienced how loyalty to our denominations and favored pastors causes division. Because of my mix of views, I have yet to find a church that I am allowed to join, yet many accuse my faith because I do not go to one church regularly (though I visit several local churches with some regularity and have made some friends by doing so). I don’t like feeling cast out so I will not cause others to feel this way, as much as is possible.
In any case, it is better to know that we all, including myself, have errors and when Jesus returns we should expect those errors to come out as we lay low all of the exalted figures within the faith and raise Jesus as our King instead.
I think the false Christ will also attempt to “restore all things” but I am certain that his way of doing so will be such that we know this is not our Lord, but an imposter. He will restore as Satan restores—which is not any real restoration—but desolation.
This whole spill has a point, and I know I’m good at taking a simple point and dragging it out as I attempt to find the right words to communicate to a varied audience.
The point is that we should approach one another as fellow students, not as superiors.
Jesus said that “he that is greatest among you will be your servant.” Paul the Apostle was a good example of this. He is one of the biggest founders of the Christian faith, yet in the world he was poor, afflicted, looked down upon, and questioned by those who thought themselves to be superior: the Jewish people who rejected Christ and the many “false apostles and deceitful workers.”
Paul did not hold so high a view of himself. Those who hold high views of themselves are either young and immature or old and stubborn, in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, they are imposters and infiltrators of the enemy of our people.
In any case, we should be aware of any who would approach us from a position that is highly exalted, lest they pull us up onto their pedestal and we fall together with them when Jesus lays low the proud things of this earth.
Lowliness is peaceable, patient, and rests in the sovereignty of our all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator. “We do not yet know what we will be, but we will be as He is.” He was low, and in being low He was exalted. We should be low also, because it is in lowliness that we can help one another grow into the “fullness of Christ” as much as is possible in this present world.