Saturday, March 8, 2014

10 Encouragements to every 1 Rebuke

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I'm quite stunned by the mud slinging that goes on within the United States Evangelical movement.  It runs like a cancer within Christianity.  Everyone, from the very top leadership to the lower echelons, bloggers, and local congregations... well, it seems to be a problem on all levels.  Whether on blogs, on Youtube, at my home church, or talking to friends.. someone always has something negative to say about a leader, or a movement, or a theological issue.  And very often nothing to say if they think that person is doing a good job.

Why is it that we can only say something if it's negative?  Is rebuking the only language the church may speak to and regarding one another?

It's quite upsetting to see such a petty problem.  My first reaction is to think my goodness, can we grow up?  Have we forgotten our primary purpose of knowing Jesus Christ and making him known?   

John MacArthur is one of the worst with this, I've seen him come at Mark Driscoll calling for his resignation.  He did the same thing to Rick Warren.  I see an incredible amount of fire come at just Driscoll and Warren.  It's systemic.  I was at a presentation at a local church a few months ago watching an open air preacher call apologetics worthless.  I've seen apologists mock presuppositionalists.  At the Strange Fire conference cessationist calvinists mocked charismatics, and later on I saw Mark Driscoll show up at the conference to mock the cessationists.  John MacArthur called the NIV a heresy, while my text book for Inductive Bible Study said formal translations are not accurate.  I've seen John Piper interview Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, and Rick Warren, and find very little wrong theologically in their views.  

What about unity within the body of Christ?

I love John MacArthur, he is one of the greatest expository preachers the world has ever seen.
I love Mark Driscoll, his ministry to guys in their twenties is incredible.
I love Rick Warren, he's attacking some the biggest issues our planet faces.

I love the body of Christ, because you're my family.  And not because that's what I'm suppose to say, or it's kinda true because the Bible says it, or even that it's definitely true but I don't actually feel it, it's that it's completely true, and I do feel it.  You are my family, actually, and truly, if you're a Christian.  That is the happy fact. 

My spiritual gifts are "showing mercy" and "exhortation" so maybe I'm just better at picking out the things to love in people.  But how can we be missing this one? 

Show love.  Show more love.  Any given situation, love.  And more love. 

Romans 16:17-18 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Fortunately my friends, my family, this is not a difficult problem to solve within Christianity.  Start blogging about unity!  Project a positive mindset into the body, and a lot of the divides can be healed.  It's as simple as people swallowing their pride and choosing to magnify the good about others, rather than focus on the bad. 

We can learn to love anyone.  And Jesus said love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.  Christianity in the United States is under organized attack, vicious attack daily in the colleges, in the classrooms, at the bars, the clubs, on the internet, and in people's homes.  We don't have the luxury of going to war with each other every time we find a disagreement in theology.  If we both love Jesus Christ and match our truth from the Bible, we're on the same team!

The problem here is that we're forgetting to love one another.  We're favoring doctrinal disagreements and failing to love.  May I share chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians?

1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Jesus said Love God and love your neighbors. Let's do that.  Blog about unity.  Christianity is under enough fire without various sects within Protestantism taking pot shots at one another.  Unity, unity. 

I suggest a new rule, for every 1 time you rebuke another Christian brother or sister, you must first encourage 10 others.  Encouragement is sorely lacking in the body today, and especially in the pulpit.  Too many are rebuking, too few encouraging.  So show your family some encouragement.  

Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.