Fleeting Thoughts

I believe that there is ample evidence to back up the Christian faith, and I am a Christian because I am convicted, in large part, by all of these evidences. But it occurred to me yesterday that even if these evidences did not exist, and I was left trying to find a worldview that answers the basic questions of humanity, I would still choose Christianity on the basis that it is, by far, the most beautiful story ever told. I would latch onto the Christian faith if for no other reason than it is a story that touches my heart, fills me with awe and reverence, and inspires me to become a better man in every aspect of my life. “Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word.”

I wonder if we spend so much time trying to prove why Christianity is technically true that we miss the intrinsic beauty of its message. When those we’re trying to convince listen to us, do they hear in our voices a tone of wonderment and joy and awe, or just the droning of facts?

Yes, Jesus is our friend and brother. Yes, our God is merciful and compassionate. And yes, “God is love.” But at the end of the day, we cannot forget that our God is also holy, and not only does He demand our very best; He deserves our very best.

A fellow evangelist made this observation and it’s too good not to share:

I think it needs to be understood that just as there are surely some people with convictions lacking in mercy, there are also people crying for mercy who, lacking conviction, are unmerciful in their perception of people with conviction.

I’ve heard brethren object to the singing of “O, Why Not Tonight?” in the morning because it isn’t nighttime, only to then observe the Lord’s Supper in the morning. Not only is it called the Lord’s Supper, not the Lord’s breakfast, the examples of Scripture are of an evening, not a morning, observance. This seems to be a prime example of picking the speck out of your brother’s eye when you have a log sticking out of your own eye.

It’s proper to say to God, “Bow down Your ear to me” (Psalm 31:2). Unfortunately, some people interpret that to mean, “Bow down to me.” Can you see the difference?

When preaching the truth, there’s a fine line between diplomacy and cowardice.

Unity in diversity is inevitable. The question is, how much diversity should we tolerate? This is a question that will challenge every congregation, and a question that every congregation must answer for itself.

It’s not uncommon for people who hold very strict positions on moral issues to accuse those who are more lenient in their views and/or practices of “just wanting to justify their sin.” This is a broad judgment of the heart that we as finite beings are not qualified to make. Is it not possible that someone has developed a more lenient position only as a result of deep, thoughtful Bible study and prayer? Someone can disagree with you or hold a different position than you without being intellectually dishonest. In fact, one could argue that it is intellectually lazy, perhaps even dishonest, to dismiss the opposition out of hand with such broad assumptions and baseless accusations.

While there is such a thing as intellectual arrogance (1 Cor. 1:18-29) that is not in accord with the Christian spirit, we cannot assume that all deep thinking automatically represents a deviation from the purity and simplicity of the gospel. When a Christian decides to dig deeper into a traditional belief, and, as a result, comes to a different, more non-traditional position, maybe it’s true that his faith has been poisoned by worldly wisdom…or maybe it’s true that the rest of us have been too shallow in OUR thinking. Deep thinking, so long as it lines up with truth, should be welcomed, not discouraged.

In a religious context, the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are relative to where you are on the broad spectrum of religious thought. While you might consider yourself to be a conservative, there is inevitably someone more conservative than you who views you as a liberal. While you might consider that person to be “ultra-conservative,” the person left of you sees you in the same light. So perhaps we ought to stop using these labels and instead focus on the issues.

We must allow issues of liberty to remain issues of liberty, even if we have personal scruples that keep us, as individuals, from exercising those liberties. We cannot force our opinions on others or judge others for having a different personal standard. Is this not the epitome of “speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent?”

A case can literally be made against anything! And yet Romans 14 is there for a reason. We need to learn to distinguish between our opinions, as reasonable and obvious as they may seem to us, and objective truth. This is critical to understand if we have any hope at true unity.

In a church that covets the truth above all else, challenging questions are met with a “Let’s investigate this together” attitude, rather than condescending tirades or subtle threats that intimidate people into submission. When the latter is true in a church, people stop asking questions, and the unity of brethren inevitably becomes more and more shallow as these unseen cracks turn into serious, and often irreparable chasms.

Those who view Christianity as a destination, rather than the journey it is, will only have to pack and unpack, pack and unpack, over and over again, throughout their lives. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that you’ve “arrived.” Stay humble, keep searching, and recognize that the rest of us are on the same journey…maybe just at a different place.

When I lived in Kentucky, I would walk up the wooded hill behind my in-laws’ home to an old cemetery that had gravestones dating back to the 1800s. I remember thinking that these people used to be alive on the earth, with youthful vigor and romances and dreams. And now they’ve been dead for over a century! It’s true what James 4:14 says: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” I’m only 30 years old right now. I’ve been married for over 11 years and I have six children, the oldest of which is just ten! But one day, I’ll have a cockeyed gravestone in an old cemetery that has been overtaken by brambles and forest, too. I’d better use the little time I have here to prepare for eternity.

Obedience isn’t just about doing God’s commandments; it’s about submitting to God’s will for your life even when it’s hard to do so (Hebrews 5:7-9). You can keep “all” of God’s commandments but still be disobedient if, in your heart, you do not trust God enough to follow the path He’s chosen for you.