Just a few more thoughts that grew out of the post about big hats, below.
It’s a fine thing to offend the unsaved with the gospel of Christ.
But, knowing that Christ loves this church that He bought with his blood…and that it is precious to Him, sometimes I feel fearful of saying what is on my heart to believers, as I don’t want to offend those who have slightly different understandings than I do. I understand that there are other ideas than mine, held by sincere believers who love Christ as I do.
Not one of us grasps the entirety of scripture perfectly, as far as I can tell. And sometimes it seems like too many people in the Reformed church think that in order to be really Reformed, we all have to act like Martin Luther on steroids. Reform is certainly needed in the church today, but it’s reform of our hearts first. And so, humility and caution are most appropriate…. before we begin hacking at one another.
Speaking about faith and then doctrinal belief on the internet, whether on Facebook or on a blog, brings more opportunity for mischief and misunderstanding than speaking face to face. I find that there are so many ways to hide the elements of my faith that might REALLY rub someone wrong, or to just blab out what I’m thinking without considering how it may cause harm. And I am not the only one struggling with this. Sometimes I read “Christian Blogs” and am amazed at the lack of love, at the arrogance and at the failure to remember that we are to correct one another in love.
And I believe that where Hebrews 12:13 says “Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” speaks to our tendency to trip up the one we believe is in error, rather than gently help him along to a better understanding .
We are told not to be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings, and we are also told to keep on loving each other as brothers. (Hebrews 13)
So when I encounter people who claim Christ, but who hold to doctrines that I do not find in the Bible, or who teach one doctrine while practicing something different. Or who elevate one teaching above another,learning how to respond rightly requires prayer, and scripture and patience and a fair bit of disciplined silence. It is essential to know where my authority lies, and to be in the habit of obedience. And I must love them first. Whether I’m in the room with them, or reading their ideas on a screen.
It is really the lovely sandpaper of the Holy Spirit on my soul for me to bow to scripture and receive instruction on how to step forward. Because my own proud heart always wants to do the wrong thing.
So, first, I must examine myself. (2 Cor. 13) I must look at my own motivations. If I can say what’s on my mind with love, and if what I really am after is to help, not to criticize or to elevate myself. Then perhaps I can speak.