We are so afraid of each other.
And I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why. It makes no sense.
Since moving to Sukhothai we’ve been meeting with a group of believers who hold to a few doctrines we understand differently. Who hold sacred a day of the week on which our family does not generally gather for corporate worship. Who play their music louder than we’ve ever been comfortable with. And do you know what?
I could not have hoped to meet a more earnest and sincere group of people, ever or anywhere.
It’s a church plant that started just a few weeks after we moved here and the pastor stopped by to invite us to join them. Guess what my initial reaction was?
How do we worship together if we currently believe differently?
Arrogance. Shameful arrogance.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe doctrine matters. A misunderstanding of Scripture can misrepresent the character of God and representing Him well to a dying world should be of paramount importance to us. I do NOT believe in a call for blind unity of beliefs; I do, however, believe in a call for unity of purpose.
And that is what these precious people have asked of us. They’ve asked that we join them in helping to dispel darkness and share the love of God.
Why would we be afraid of that?
Why would we be willing to sell all our possessions and give up our lives to cross the world to a people who don’t know, love or serve our God to happily set ourselves right in the middle of their Christless world but then hide in fear from fellow Christian believers with whom we simply aren’t 100% aligned doctrinally?
And yet that’s reality for so many.
God has used these people to open our eyes to things we’d have never seen otherwise. He’s used them to show us He came to save ALL, not some elite group of scholars or just the very clean and tidy. They’ve become friends to us. They’ve helped us in times of need. And one of the men who lives here on our street, wakes at 4:30 in the morning so he has time to pray for the people of this village and city.
This is Christianity with feet.
They’ve also unknowingly shown us, that even if our doctrine was perfectly sound (trust me, I’m speaking in hypotheticals here!) arrogance would unfit us for the Kingdom.
Sound doctrine humbles, not exalts.
The life we see modeled in Christ’s time here on earth is one where He surrounded Himself with the least likely. The scorned and the sinful. He loved the righteous but He also fought for the filthy castoffs of society. He redeemed the heretic, healed the paralytic, and restored sight to the blind.
I see myself in all three.
I am such a one as would not have been welcome among the learned of that time. I have a past and it ain’t pretty. I’d wager you do, too.
But I sometimes wonder if we also try positioning ourselves as did the Sadducees and Pharisees … determined that we’re “… rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” And as such we “knowest not that thou (we) art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
The very ones who called for the crucifixion of our Saviour were those learned scholars who had dedicated their lives to supposedly serving God and upholding His law. And yet they were too proud to recognize Him and too stubborn to learn at His feet when He came to restore that which had been lost.
If they’d humbled themselves to see they could spend all eternity learning if they were willing, rather than assuming they had nothing more to learn, their stories might have played out very differently.
I don’t want that portion of history to be repeated in my own life.
I believe God is calling us to wake up to the desperate need all around us. To stop being “sanctuary Christians” and to walk our talk every moment of every day. I believe He’s asking us to be bold and courageous.
And I believe He’s asking us to do big and small things that will impact eternity for millions of His languishing people.
We’re to take seriously the command that we ought to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Because if we’re studying Scripture, aided by the Spirit, we’ll be growing in wisdom and stature. If we’re praying, abiding in the Spirit, we’ll have discernment that will deliver us from deception. And if our purpose is to unify with fellow believers in order to spread His “fame”, we have absolutely nothing to fear.
The Bereans were just such an example. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed.”
They didn’t fear truth, even when it looked different than they expected, and they were also willing to share it.
May God finding us as fearless and willing.