As I am wondering what is wrong with this picture, I get partial answers at times. The picture is the body of Christ, and what I see wrong so many times, is a symptom of something much more serious. If I have a child who is sick, I will analyze all the symptoms and try to treat the illness, and if I can't, I will call a doctor for help and medicine, with the hopes of a correct diagnoses. So, here is the thought that came to my mind this morning, as I think about this continual 'symptom' that I see over and over again in the church worldwide. By the church, I mean brothers and sisters in Christ who make up the body of Christ altogether.
What is the problem that I am seeing? It is a two-fold problem. First, I am seeing a strong desire from many believers in Christ for revival. It is a heart cry for many. But it doesn't seem to be happening. And we always have to ask 'why'?
Secondly, I am seeing many good Bible teachers teaching wonderful truths out of the Bible. One of the best teachings that also is practical is the teaching of peacemaking. The Peacemaker is a class that is taught in many churches and explains the principles of peacemaking out of Scriptures. We went through this class in our church and many of the principles were put into practice in our lives. I'm sure this has happened in many churches at least in America if not around the world. But in the last couple of years, I have seen more hatred and division in the body of Christ than I have ever seen in my whole Christian life. Perhaps I am seeing more because of being on Facebook and the Internet. Maybe it was there all along, and I just never saw it to the degree that I see it now.
Yes, we have been taught these principles, and we know better than to slander people today. The Bible is very clear on the fact that slander is an abomination to God. Slander is demeaning to people and there is never a time when we should use it. Slander is one of Satan's favorite ways of destruction. But Christians use it every day. Not only that, but they resort to name calling and vicious attacks against others that they don't agree with in doctrine. And because they don't believe the other party is really truly converted, they feel they have a right to slam the opposing group. Friends, we are not playing football here. Our goal should be to work together in unity where we can. Where we disagree, there should be love. We don't see in Scriptures where people who disagreed slandered those they disagreed with. We are to warn people about those who are divisive. Warning people doesn't involve slander. When we slander someone, we don't have an excuse for doing this because the opposing team is wrong. Even false teachers and prophets should not be slandered. We can warn our church family about these people and we don't have to slander them in doing so. We don't have to hate the false teacher. Sure, we hate what they do. What they teach makes us angry, and it should. But we don't have a right to slander them.
Here is my thought from this morning: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They are spiritual. When we use the weapon of hate, we are using a carnal weapon. We are not fighting against the Enemy with the proper weapon and we will become casualties." Remember we are in a spiritual battle and our common enemy is the devil, not each other or not other groups we disagree with. If we see a Christian group of people who appear to be in error, could we take time to pray for them? Could we understand that all of us (us included) are all in the growing process of sanctification and some will be weak? Can we pay attention and be our brother's or sister's keepers and help them be delivered from the sins which are binding them? Can we handle warning our church families about false teachers by using charity?
I am concerned that we have used the subject of 'false teachers' in a wrong way. For example, if we are Calvinist, some of us will call Arminians 'heretics'. That is not fair, nor is it courteous to those who are true believers who hold an Arminian viewpoint. The issue isn't whether Arminian or Calvinist is correct, but whether the person is in Christ or not. As we grow spiritually, God makes His truth clearer to us more and more. We will let go of things that are not true, even if we have been holding onto them for a while.
But when it comes to false teachers, do you not think it would be better to teach the true doctrines that would make sense, rather than attacking individual people? For example, there really is a dangerous teaching that has crept into the church that I am surprised not many have caught onto yet. But I see professing Christians adapting some of the beliefs of this false doctrine. I can tell by what I read in the things they post and talk about that many have fallen into the doctrine of Pelagiansim. Not many will know what Pelagianism is, but most of us have been taught well against its principles. Pelagianism would teach, if I understand correctly, that salvation is two-fold; belief in Christ and obedience to God. Any Christian who has a basic understanding of the Gospel would know that this is wrong. But I see many who embrace Pelagianism and to my surprise are open about their erroneous beliefs. This is what I call dangerous. Do we hate Pelagians? No, we should be praying for them. We should be sharing the truth of salvation being a free gift of God, not of works lest anyone would boast.
We ignore the major heresies, but embrace the individuals we don't agree with and attack them. In the debate world, this is called ad-hominem. It means attacking the person instead of the belief system. It is a rule you do not want to break while doing a debate. If it is that important to follow in debating, how much more should we follow the word of God when it tells us to be peaceful in our relationships and that we should be marked by love?
Love is the healing power for this sickness in the body of Christ. Humility is the agent that will make love work. When we truly love someone, we want the best for him or her, even at our own expense. It is not about us, but it is all about God and making His name known in truth. When we truly love God, we will genuinely love one another. This is the evidence that we have been born again and are part of the body of Christ. Until we develop this kind of love, the church will stay in an unhealthy state.