Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gathering In Unity: Part 4

Doctrines and Denominations

So we've defined the biblical Body of Christ. We've examined how to be self-controlled and take the lower position. The last part of this series proposed the idea that the agape love of the Father at the origin is the key to it all. So how did the Church get to where She is then, completely segregated and scattered about?

When the Body begins to get more infatuated with exposing "false doctrines", denominational differences, or the errors and variations in personal opinions than She is with being conformed into the image of Christ, what is the result? I would say the answer lies within the current state of the Body – division, anger, hurt, separation, disinterest, lethargy, disjointedness, power struggles, unbiblical positional authority, biblically illiterate members of the Body… we could go on and on.

There is a time to sit down and discuss doctrinal matters, but it is not to be all the time. I trust that when we gather and ask the LORD to be the Teacher, He does not deny our request. When all parties come together with no agenda to push or order to fulfill, the LORD is truly allowed to dictate all that transpires. When love is the focus, when love is the origin, when love is the overriding theme that is present, I believe we free ourselves to move into the deeper things of the LORD. When loving the LORD and loving each other is the primary focus, I believe that beneficial results await.

Let's imagine two options, one we'll call "judgment and condemnation" and one we'll simply call "love". If the goal to be attained above them both is the Body of Christ, which do you think has the best chance of uniting people together and reaching the goal of the early Body of Christ that we see in the Scriptures? Constant confrontation, without patience and self control will continue to drive wedges between members of the Body. Surely no one wants to be proven wrong all of the time. In my opinion, there's little worse within a gathering than someone who constantly disagrees with everything and feels the need to publicly debate every issue that arises. Others feel the need to always "correct" and make sure you know that you might be wrong. There is a time to correct and discuss matters of importance and there are proper ways to go about it.

Of course, I am also aware that we must have balance. I occasionally hear people reference different "movements" that are always out there that use the "love approach" to overlook all doctrinal differences and have an "anything goes" approach to Christianity. This is not what I'm saying – we must have balance. I say this all of the time, just because someone distorted the original pattern does not make the original pattern wrong. I'm personally so fed up with one-dimensional Christianity. "We like prophecy, so we'll only prophesy." "We like to expose and condemn, so we'll only expose and condemn." "We like to just love and overlook all errors so that no one is ever offended." "We like to evangelize so all we'll do is knock on doors and evangelize." You get the point.

Who will be the well-rounded Believers? Who will strive to be balanced and hear and heed the leading of the Holy Spirit above all else? Until then, everyone will continue to jump in and out of gatherings in search of "where they "fit" best" because after all, it is far too often all about us and what we personally like. The second we feel uncomfortable or disagree, it surely can't be God, right? I think it is high time the Body of Christ looks Her disagreements in the eye and lovingly addresses them, when necessary – which I might add is not going to be every time that you and I may want to. We must use wisdom, discretion and above all, allow the LORD to be the one who initiates any potentially troublesome confrontations when confronting differences.

Responses and actions rooted in the flesh will generally only produce fleshly outcomes.

Likewise, when one responds out of being prompted by the Holy Spirit, beneficial, Spirit-led results are allowed to flourish. When He orchestrates what is shared, all involved have the opportunity to learn and mature. Now of course that doesn't mean that all will receive and embrace what He speaks through the vessel He chooses to use, but all involved are invited to be a willing participant within the Body (1 Corinthians 14). I believe that the LORD is longing for His people to interact in such a manner.

Institutional, religious organizations liberally throw around Proverbs 29:18 which states, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" in order to promote common goals regarding buildings projects, programs and various other endeavors. I believe this is a horrible misuse of this Scriptures intent. What I see when I study this verse is much deeper than a statement that cries out for commonality. If the Body of Christ (the people) dies (perishes) without revelation (vision), then that must surely mean that it (vision) is a necessary life-source.

Those who dwell together in unity, led by the Spirit, can say with one voice what David stated in Psalm 27:4 – "One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple".

When the Body of Christ dwells in the sanctuary of the Most High, instead of their own divided sanctuaries, then they will hear the same things, see the same things and experience the revelation of what the Father is doing.

These will have divine perspective that far supersedes their denominational guidelines and doctrines. Herein lies the power to bring about true unity that can transform the entire beautiful Body of Christ!

* Part 5 will discuss how we can begin to properly balance tolerance and judgment.


Shawn said...

Some interesting things to chew on in this one. I'd never really sat down and thought the question you posed, "when did God condone denominational divisions?". It's odd to think how far gone we are yet noone even seems to notice. Well, few anyway.

Joel Spencer said...

Shawn:: I'm glad the post has challenged you to do some thinking on this widely accepted, yet biblically questionable issue. If you do anything long enough, it will become accepted as "normal". Denominations are no different.