Wednesday, 18 November 2009

faith love and bickering..

Was just sitting reading Galatians last night and just felt that parts of it were really relevant to some of the stuff that I have been thinking about and some things that have had me a bit confused.

Gal 5,6
"What is important is faith expressing itself in love"
"Use your freedom to serve one another in love....the whole law can be summed up by this love your neighbour as yourself"
"BUT if you are always BITING and Devouring one another watch out beware of destroying one another"

I know God is telling me something through this.
I have been confused recently by some of the division, back biting and sheer malice that goes on  within and between christian communities. I often wonder who is in the right? Who is in the wrong? Does it even matter? What does God think?

This verse has reassured me and in a way summed things up for me.
In this passage Paul has his work cut out for him trying to convince a nation that were used to rules and regulations as their religion, that religion now had a new meaning. The message of Jesus was evolving and people had to accept the fact that now there was grace and forgiveness....freedom. Everyone did not have to agree on the minor details of doctrine. They were to work out their own way of following Jesus in freedom and integrity.
We can either decide to be legalistic or we can follow Jesus. trying to be both causes unnecessary guilt envy and harsh judgement against others who don't do their walk with God the way we do. 
Paul advised the Galatians not just to be free for the sake of it, not to use their freedom to do whatever they wanted but they were to use their freedom to love and support others.
These people had been so caught up in sacrificing the right animals, wearing the right clothes to the temple, talking the right religious talk and Paul is saying.... the whole law in a nut shell is actually just to love your neighbour.
I don't know but maybe its actually easier to be religious and follow a list of dos and dont's than it is to love people, especially people who we disagree with.

The measure of our faith therefore is LOVE.
It is not face value..

"He leads a church, he must have an amazing faith"
"He is always up at the front...he must be really close to God"
I think that is shallow.
Yes a lot of these people are truly close to God but unless we know them we probably shouldn't judge.

Faith is expressed in love. Ever met someone who leads people amazingly from the front but has very little love to give off the platform. I have. I think a loving, outreaching, outwardly focused heart speaks more than a thousand of their sermons and "christian practices"... I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day...
We can be stuck on rules and on the way things should be done. Especially in our churches. The rules have even moulded themselves to be more modern and subtle but even now in our trendy church services we still have codes and boundaries which to me at times seem a bit religious. 
We have pride, opinions, tradition, intellect....
often to our detriment.

I wonder what God thinks when we spend a lot of time and energy bickering over doctrine and different ways of doing church. When we spend our time gossiping about how wrong some people are.
Will he not just ask...why did you not just love?....that's the law in a nut shell.

I know a lot of Christians and some have very different ideas about things than others. I also know Christians....members of Gods family...whose faith is doubted by other Christians. All I can say is that I think faith is expressed in love and as long as these people continue to carry the fire of God in their heart and I can continue to sense the love and compassion of Jesus from them...they are part of Gods family no matter what the doctrinal differences are. I am not talking about false teaching,
I am talking about people who believe in the life death and rising of Jesus. Who believe in salvation and grace and freedom, who long and strive for kingdom advances and who to be honest are expressing their faith in love more than most.

Maybe God has a more relaxed approach to our differences as long as our common denominator is the same. I have seen many sides of Gods character in different circumstances of my life and in different parts of the world. God has eternal dimensions. He enjoys diversity and probably prefers that to a load of cloned churches... perhaps different interpretations of different parts of his word and the expressions of that are to be celebrated and supported.

We need to learn to love brothers and sisters in Jesus regardless of the path they have chosen.
Otherwise we can and will destroy each other.
What about being happy for people who are doing something new and different rather than waiting and secretly hoping for it to fail...."I knew it wouldn't work".

The body of Christ has been divided for centuries due to the "tut tuts" of self righteous members who don't like change and don't like anything different to what they think is right. Who don't like to loose control...

God enjoys our diversity and longs for us to do the same...

Supporting one another
Equipping one another
Loving one another 
Regardless of who gains more success or recognition.

That's my rant over...
Am off to have my wedding dress fitted....... yippeeee!!

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