Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Catching up . . .

So I’m behind on blogging. Bleah. I’d been trying to think of a suitable topic, and then at New Year’s I didn’t want to do the obligatory “resolution” post . . . my particular stubbornness in avoiding the mainstream, I guess. Besides, I felt that my “year” began back in September, during the conference, and that the Lord wanted me to continue in the work He’d set for me then. Interesting, that, considering the Jewish New Year begins in September as well . . . nu?

The family and I were also battling a nasty sore throat/respiratory virus from about the second week of December till sometime in January. I had it for almost three weeks straight . . . then again . . . and again . . . am just now really getting back on track. And yikes—January’s nearly done!

Besides starting up school again (and trying to really be diligent with the six who are “doing school” this year, in a span from kindergarten up to high school freshman), I’m finishing up ballet costumes (a job I agreed to in partial exchange for class fees) and chipping away at Gift—I’m up to about 77,500 words now and in the home stretch as far as storyline . . . and slightly freaked out again because I’m scared of “messing it up.” Yeah, I know . . . the Lord brought me thus far, so I should trust Him to get me through the rest, right? And my readers seem to love it so far . . . picture me scratching my head in bafflement here, because it really mostly seems like drivel to me when I go back and read . . .

In between the holidays and getting back into a routine, I’ve struggled with some discouragement and doubt over my writing—I think that’s been endemic, given what I’ve read on other people’s blogs—am I really called, how can God expect me to balance the family and my writing, am I damaging my children beyond repair by trying to spread myself too thin . . . yada yada. Finally I remembered that what He calls us to do, He equips us for, and meets all our needs, including the emotional and spiritual ones.

So now, the spiritual crisis du jour involves something that’s been simmering in me for some time . . . the divisions within the Body of Christ. I look at differences of “doctrine” that really are just matters of interpretation or personal opinion . . . everybody’s got ‘em, including myself, and we’re all sure we’re right . . . but are we really? And how many of these things are worth parting fellowship over?

What troubles me are matters in which this group or that forms a whole teaching around one verse, or a part of a verse, that’s yanked out of context . . . while ignoring whole passages elsewhere. Every denomination or splinter group that I know of does this. As a friend expressed to me last night, who are we supposed to listen to, if everyone’s teachings are flawed? Where do we turn for truth? I know the answer is Scripture itself, of course—we can’t just toss out preaching altogether, but we must constantly compare what we hear taught to what the Word actually says. Still, it’s distressing to find differences of opinion or interpretation between myself and someone I hold very dear—differences which aren’t necessarily resolved by comparing notes and going to Scripture, because the other person is coming from one perspective and I’m coming from another. Both of us have prayed over our position, however, and both of us are sure that we’re right where we should be . . .

And perhaps we are. Does the Lord allow for differences of belief and interpretation among His children, as long as it isn’t a salvation issue? Study of the “meats offered to idols” issue in the early church leads me to say yes. Still, there are things that don’t fall under the category of “meats offered to idols” (style of dress, music, entertainment, drink, dietary mores, etc.) . . . some things really are doctrinal issues. But it distresses me deeply when I hear preachers, especially, denigrating those who don’t hold their particular interpretational belief—charismatics, et al, referring to Baptists, et al, as “the frozen chosen,” or Baptists referring to charismatics as “those holy rollers.” These are your brothers and sisters in Christ you’re talking about, if they believe in the Deity and Resurrection of our Lord. Is God pleased by all this? I seriously wonder—as a parent myself, I take a very dim view of my children calling each other “idiot” and “stupid,” and really, it isn’t anything more than that.

So where does unity of the Body come into this? Do we all necessarily have to hold the same viewpoint—even on doctrinal issues not relating to essential salvation—to be in fellowship with each other? Jesus prayed that all believers would be made “one”—and said that love for each other would mark us as His followers as nothing else. Maybe that’s why Satan fights so hard to keep us at odds with each other . . . because if we’re kept busy bickering over gifts of the Spirit, or the method of baptism, or worship styles, or the color of carpet in the meeting house, then, gee, maybe we’ll miss the more important work of the kingdom, which in my very humble opinion seems to be interceding for our brethren and the lost (something I need to do more of), and lifting up our awesome Creator to a dying world.

6 comments:

  1. Good thoughts, Shannon. I've been going through the Bible in 90 Days and it's been wonderful how God has been speaking to me from his Word, even parts of the Old Testament I thought I'd never understand. It's been making me remember that He's there in His Word if I look.

    Camy

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  2. Now that's what I call an eclectic musing! Or maybe a nice shotgun blast to open clear off the new year writing slump with ;)

    Good deep thoughts worthy of musing on and keeping in mind. Thanks!

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  3. If one looks even at the New Testament, one sees that these divisions occurred as soon as the church came to be. Humans = conflict, and having the Holy Spirit and the Word doesn't mean the conflicts won't arise.

    I think what matters is how one differs. To differ with love and prayers is fine. Even if it means separating to another denomination. To differ with meanness and denigration is sin.

    The writings of the Early Church Fathers show that differences persisted, and even now persist. That will not change until the Lord comes and makes us all truly one under his kingship.

    Until then, I must follow my spirit and conscience as I seek HIS SPIRIT and MIND. If I truly believe X is a bad doctrine and it matters, I cannot feel right in that church. However, I can be in a church and not agree 100% with the pastor or the elders or the sister or brother sitting to my right or left. Some things one must leave to that gray area that is the liberty given in Christ...and fill the gray with love.

    I can worship with anyone who believes the core truths: God is, He created, He saves through His Son and Spirit, and He is judge of all that moves and lives, the dispenser of grace and mercy, the author and finisher of my faith, the one who calls and empowers.

    If we agree on Jesus as the Son of God, come to live holy, die wholly, and rise again as Lord over All, then we can praise His name together, share the bread and wine of remembrance, and sing songs of joy.

    If you deny Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and Scripture the Word of that God, who has made Heaven and Earth and will separate believers from unbelievers in the judgment to come, then what do we have to sing about together? Nothing. The bond of faith is not there.

    I don't fret about denominations. I don't fret about simple joshing (holy roller, frozen chosen). That, at base, is trifles between brethren. God loves variety, and I'm sure that as long as we are trying to worship Him as rightly as we can, even if its in houses with differing denominations, He is pleased. When it comes down to it, I've seen Christians cooperate more in my lifetime than probably history has seen since the early days. I've seen multi-denominational outreaches and charities. The walls have doorways between true believers. And some true believers have had to leave apostate churches, which is the right thing to do. Follow God, love Him and his children, and don't worry about it at all. God will save whom He will save, all bickering aside. :)

    Mir
    http://mirathon.blogspot.com

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  4. Wow, I have three comments!!! Thanks, y'all!

    And, oh yes, Mir, I do understand about all that. I, too, don't feel comfortable attending certain churches--and we've left some because we felt the slant on scripture was just too far from what we wanted our children exposed to, etc. And I don't fret about denomination, either. What I was referring to is not "simple joshing," but comments made with a sneering or haughty attitude, and yes, I've heard a good bit of it, most often in pastors and other church leaders. Examples--and I want to be careful here, both to not foster more division between denominations or to cause problems in my own local assembly--a missionary said recently that they feel the need to get someone of their own denomination into a certain area because "the **** are very active there, and we want to make sure people get real Bible teaching." Excuse me? Like, any particular denomination has a corner on truth?? And I've heard pastors make denigrating comments about other churches in our town simply because they have home-based fellowships on a certain night, rather than a centralized service ... and I could go on and on.

    Are not teachers called to a higher standard in all things, including love of the brethren?

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  5. Hey, Beautiful! I'm far behind (can you tell??). LOL I think you're right--if he can keep us tasked with fighitng and bickering, then we also neglect the very ones we should be ministering to.

    Love ya!

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  6. Is this the same Shannon from yrs ago on AOL? I was just surfing blogs and stumbled across your blog.

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