Bridging The Great Divide

Written by Greg Benner 10-21-1998

News Flash! Church-at-large indicted on charges of destroying its own global impact for Christ through stupid arguments, doctrinal interpretations, and human pride! Yes folks, that's us in our finest form and glory. For the past 1900 years, God's Church has been a house divided against itself diluting its impact for Jesus Christ in a dying world. How have we done this you ask? We have set up false gods of human pride and selfish ambition in our attempt to bend God's will into conformity with our own selfish desires for power and recognition. Throughout history...both leaders and common people steeped in religiosity ventured ahead to reduce God's omnipotent stature to that of mortal understanding. This truth rears its ugly head time-and-again as disputes erupt within the body of Christ fueled by issues like eternal security, freedom to choose, human tradition, charismatic worship, entire sanctification, dancing unto the Lord, music styles, baptism of the Holy Spirit, apostolic anointing, divine healing, prophecy, and more.

Child-like Simplicity

Yes is true that the upward mobility of today's Church-at-large hangs over the great abyss hidden within our personal responses to doctrinal interpretation.  Yet, we must realize that our individual or corporte interpretation of Scripture never overturns God's authority or eternal call for us to take on Christ-likeness. To this end...each of us must carefully discern the boundaries between Scriptural accuracy and insensitive imposition of our personal opinion on those around us. Those passages in Scripture which contain God's eternal mandates like the Ten Commandments or the words of Jesus Himself...nail down God's authority and plan by exposing personal interpretive opinion as just that...opinion.  In other words...most life-application principles, instructions, or commands found in the Bible do not need a rocket scientist to explain them to everyday people like us. Conversely, the Bible's more elusive treasures found deeply imbedded within historical backdrops, parables, and prophetic voice demand divine revelation under the instruction of the Holy Spirit...not casual review. This is driven home in John 16:13 where the Bible tells us that "...when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide us [sic] into all truth."   Consequently, it appears obvious that the deepest reaches of God's truth are not mere by-products of intellectual understanding alone, but rather gifts of God's grace that are only available through the Holy Spirit as we live in intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember, in Matthew 11:25, Jesus praised His Father in heaven for making eternal truth hard for intellectuals to grasp when He said, "I praise you Father...because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." Later, in Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." It seems therefore, that God's Word implies that we should simply pattern our lives after Jesus Christ instead of pointing our judgmental interpretive fingers at the people around us. Still, those things in the bible capable of delivering us into his presence...remain simple enough for a child...

Deeper Issues

Digging deep beneath our tenacious need to understand and control...we most times find that human error and sin have infected our process of reason.  As a result, each of us must determine to promote unity in body life by graciously allowing disputable matters remain private between God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, it is God's job to manifest Himself in people's lives, not ours. Though God may tell us to bring another's sin to account at times, Proverbs 17:9 tells another tale in saying "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but He who repeats a matter separates close friends." Dear friends, are we really bringing another's sin to account at God's direction when we confront...or, are we more likely browbeating another's differing viewpoint into conformity with our will?  When divisive issues emerge for debate, we must ask ourselves several penetrating questions...  First, does our issue or position help or hinder our ability to lead people to Jesus Christ by life example?  Second, is our motive to unify or divide the body of Christ?  Third, how much more could we accomplish for the Gospel if we were willing to lay down our petty differences in exchange for extending God's love?  After observing a lifetime of denominational and doctrinal water question bubbles to the surface of my spirit time-and-again.  That is...does gaining the answer to the argument at hand lead people to or drive them away from Jesus?  If the potential answer lacks redemptive impact, scrap it and move on!

Gaining New Perspective

As an every-day-Joe, I find it absurd that so many Christian perspectives derail the train of God's love to a dying world while in a roundhouse of childish behavior!  We are called to have the faith of a child...nogt act like one!  After all, where does the rubber meet the road...while winning a spiritual debate with our thumbs under our suspenders or while getting people saved?  Friends, we have a choice to make! We can either approach our God, our faith, and our world through intellectual knowledge...or, through a Christ-centered child-like simplicity filled with love.  Intellectual knowledge alone breeds pride and brings death in the lives of those it touches. Yet, living for Jesus with child-like simplicity and faith stirs life into the hearts of hopeless people. They cannot resist heaven's hope, joy, and love as we extend the heart of God in Jesus' name. From now on, as you look around...please consider others who trickle from streams of unfamiliar doctrinal view, different worship styles, and/or expressions of God's presence in their lives...through God's eyes, not your own.  If you are conservative in flavor, how does your spirit respond when your charismatic brother or sister in Christ praises God in their heavenly language of prayer? Flipping the coin over, as a is your freedom of spiritual expression curbed while your conservative brother or sister's approach to God seems reserved, stark, and naked by contrast to your own?  Remember, humble Christians of all flavors will make it to heaven...worldly judges will not. God expresses Himself in people as He chooses, not as we expect or demand (II Corinthians 12:11). None of us have a corner on God...  So next time we find ourselves sizing up a dear brother or sister in Christ next to us...join me in asking God what He sees in them as He looks through His eyes of love.   

Agree To Disagree

In summary, our goal as Christians is to promote unity, loving acceptance, and gracious appreciation of one another's uniqueness and diversity in Christ as we agree to disagree in love on issues of secondary importance. We should never view one another through religious or cultural filters, but rather through the eyes, actions, and words of Jesus Christ.  If we do not determine to keep our eyes on Jesus and His Great Commission...we will promote a cancer within the body of Christ that will stop all of us dead in our tracks through divisive confusion.  After more than 1900 years of playing mental chess...the time has come for us to fall on our faces before God in selfless surrender as we ask Him to fill our hearts with His supernatural humility. In God's strength, we can love each other with hope, joy, and grace despite our unique differences. With our eyes and hearts trained upon the face of God's love, let's make a righteous choice to bring Jesus and His gift of life to our lost and dying world, together!  Remember, the defining question to be asked of all engaged in divisive debate is still...does it get anybody saved? What is your answer?


Copyright / BattleCry Ministries - Greg Benner 1998 / All rights reserved worldwide.  These materials shall not be used or distributed without written permission.  

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