Monday, May 26, 2014

Church Membership

So, recently I took the leap.  I (along with my children) made a decision to become a member of a church, to try to belong someplace.  Before last year all the churches I went to didn't do membership, so I was quite hesitant.  But the desire to be part of a loving church family was overwhelming.

This decision gave me such joy!  To be a part of a church family is the most amazing feeling.  It gave me a feeling of love and safety and belonging.  How could I have been in the Church, been a believer, for 30 years and never had experienced what a loving church family was like?  Shouldn't that be the way every Christian church is?  And yet it isn't.  I am sure God would always have His Church be a family that draws people in with their love and acceptance, and yet this seems to be the exception anymore.  Sure so many churches try to draw them in with loud music, with coffee bars, with concerts, with drama - but what about drawing them in with love and acceptance?  Not so much.

I've been so happy being a part of this family!  I've been so thankful to have been so welcomed.

But then it happened. . . .more different-ness.  More feelings of not belonging.  Of being just outside the circle. Why must it be so difficult to belong?

There are days, like today, when I just want to quit.  Just go back to the way it was before last May and be content in my ignorance.

But more than that, I want to honor God. So I can't go back to ignorance.  I have to hold on and try to figure out a way to belong without compromising truth.

How Important Is Doctrine

How important is doctrine? And which doctrines are important? Do I let go of some to fit in. Not let go of believing what I know to be the truth from the Word, but let go of wishing others would accept the truths I know? For the sake of fitting in, for the sake of having a home church?

No one is perfect, and no one interprets all the Bible perfectly, so I guess it becomes necessary to accept some degree of doctrinal deviation among people. Kinda like the meat sacrificed to animals that was fine and dandy to eat, but some believed it to be wrong to eat it.

Still, I want to discover truth, and want others to discover that truth, too, so we may all share in the truth. Like Jesus, I want all believers to "be brought to complete unity to let the world know that [God] sent [Jesus]." (John 17:23) But, alas, that won't completely happen on this side of heaven, huh?

So perhaps I should embrace my different-ness, continue my quest for truth, but realize not everyone is at the same place I am. No, that doesn't mean my truth is different than someone else's truth - truth is absolute, and only God's truth is absolutely true. But not everyone is gonna be at the same stage of finding truth about some things. And that's ok (as long as it is not a salvation issue). So perhaps I don't have to be so alone after all. Perhaps I just need to not be eating the meat sacrificed to animals in public right now. Maybe a time will come when I can, but maybe that time isn't now.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Agree to Disagree?

How is it possible for so many people to use the same Bible and come up with so many different beliefs?

There is only one truth - God's truth.  But yet so many wonderful people who truly love God believe different things.  How can this be?  And how can we know who is right?

And usually people don't seem to even care that others have different beliefs.  We can all just agree to disagree, right?.  People don't seem to be so concerned about truth anymore.  Is the fact that it was taught to us in our youth or at our church or at our Bible college enough to hang onto that belief?  Obviously not!  And yet so many people absolutely refuse to even consider that perhaps they were taught wrongly.  

As we mature and mature in our faith, we should be studying what we believe, we should be ensuring that our beliefs are based on the Word of God and not the words of our pastor, preacher, parent, or teacher.

I don't want to agree to disagree.  I want to know the truth.  And then I want to share the truth I find - not my truth, but God's truth.  I wish people would be more open to hear and receive the truth.  Or to study for themselves to find out what the truth is.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Gospel According to Jesus

I've been reading a book by John MacArthur called The Gospel According to Jesus.  I'm not far into it yet, but have become very intrigued by what churches and "christians" say one must do to be saved, to become a Christian.

MacArthur's book begins, "Listen to the typical gospel presentation nowadays. You'll hear sinners entreated with words like, 'accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior'; 'ask Jesus into your heart'; 'invite Christ into your life'; or 'make a decision for Christ.' You may be so accustomed to hearing those phrases that it will surprise you to learn none of them is based on biblical terminology. They are the products of a diluted gospel. It is not the gospel according to Jesus."

Salvation is such a scary thing to get wrong.  Jesus says many people will cry out, "Lord, Lord," and He'll say, "I never knew you."  How many of those He never knew will be those who were told all they had to do was say a prayer and ask Jesus into their hearts.  How many people have been lead into a false sense of security with instruction to accept Jesus as your personal Savior.

Paul warns the Galatians about turning from a different gospel "which is really no gospel at all."  He further asserts that "some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"

The church needs to get back to preaching the gospel, not a watered down version made easy to bring more people into the church.  This is a matter of eternal importance.