Our Own Limbs We’ve Severed…

Ok, so the song fits so perfectly to what I am going to say that you are going to get an extra dose or two throughout this post.

Always the fastest one on the bandwagon…

I am the first to admit that I have a huge tendency to fall in line with a message or doctrine based on the speaker him or herself.  This is sometimes a good thing, I pick books about theology by author or by the authors recommending the book on the back of the dust jacket.  If I can’t do that I pick by publishers, who ought to have standards which apply to whose work they will publish.

This also means that I listen to pretty similar preachers.  This is also good for me, in developing/ strengthening my worldview/ theology, as I hope, I only listen to Biblically sound preachers.  However, I am the first to realize, also that EVERY one of the people I listen to (including me, so apply it to this post) is a sinner saved by grace, or possibly a sinner who still needs to be saved by grace.  (That’s right, unfortunately, not everyone behind a pulpit is a true follower of Christ.  Use discretion.  If it lines up with the Bible [Which you ought to be reading for yourself, because a lot of people died to allow you that ability] then continue listening.  Be a Beroean.)

The downside of my tendency is that I can easily dismiss a lesson/word/message based on who brings it also.  This should not happen.  I should only dismiss something based on whether it lines up with the word of God.  To judge based on my own standards or feelings or prior interaction with said individual is to make a temporary idol out of myself or that person.  God is my standard; His word is my yardstick.

Now let’s make this a little more personal.

Here’s the deal, I am not out to hurt anyone.  I am simply attempting to be transparent.  If you find your name on here, (I doubt you will if you read this, but it’s a possibility.) I am not hating you, I love you (or I am learning a big lesson by learning to forgive and love you).

If Person McLastName, Rick Warren, or Andy Stanley showed up in my hometown and decided to preach a message, my first instinct would be to avoid listening to what they had to say.  Why? Relatively- a personal issue from the past, too watered down for my taste, and I think his method is slightly heretical.

This initial instinct may not be a Christian one.

I must forgive over and over again any personal issues from the past.  Jesus told me to.

I’m sure there is someone out there who can benefit from what I consider to be watered down.  Just because I was raised in the church and became a know-it-all pharisee, from which God also had to save me, does not mean that some people cannot benefit from hearing the basics and then move on to explore the weighty matters. And who says I don’t need a refreshing drink of water every now and then to remember how beautifully uncomplicated it was to just fall down at the feet of Christ and trust in Him?

If God can use a donkey to get a message across to someone, God can use Andy Stanley.  I can disagree with him all I want- but I’d better be praying for him and the people who hear him, otherwise I am not being a Christian, just a person wanting to pick a fight.  If I have a friend, and I do, who was brought to Jesus from listening to Elvis sing Amazing Grace- then someone, I assume it’s possible, can be led to Christ by Andy Stanley (and then, I pray, on to a better understanding of God’s word than Stanley proposes.)

You see… Andy Stanley’s name popped up on the soon to be preaching billboard at Thomas Road Baptist Church while I was visiting.  I had a huge emotional reaction within my brain.  “How dare they allow him to set foot in that place?” I thought to myself.  God is taking my passionate thoughts and guiding them to be correctly placed at his feet in prayer and not in attacks against certain people or in stubborn refusal to believe that anything they can offer could possibly be worthwhile.

I ran across another’s blog recently, and I can find it for you if you absolutely must read it, but it was an inflated version of the kind of person I will end up being if I allow my passions to consume me and not God’s passion.    His heart was in the right place- he hates abortion, but his hatred for abortion has consumed him and his zeal has possibly overtaken God’s rightful position in his life.  Here’s the simple breakdown- Obama supports abortion> Rick Warren prayed at Obama’s inauguration> Attack Obama and Rick Warren> Mark Driscoll called Rick Warren a “brother in Christ”> Attack Mark Driscoll by calling him a “pastoral Dr. Ruth” with inflammatory speech and nothing to back up blogger’s claims>>>> continue down the spiraling path of disunity.

Drop your fists now, what you resent.
Let’s not forget who we represent.
And fall to our knees in unity.

Didn’t Christ tell us that people will know we are His by our love for His church?  (Yes: John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”)  Love, and unity which exists because of that love, is what the world ought to be seeing from the followers of Christ whom we claim to be.  I am asked all the time by the people I witness to why it is that we have so many different kinds of Christian churches.  This is truly an hindrance to their becoming Christian- they view us as a bunch of religious people who can’t get along with each other.  Why on earth would they want to join that??

You are stealing all of my joy away from me.

Whatever happened to our unity?

Here’s some more for you-

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Yep, that’s Jesus talking- how did he love me?  Oh, right, He loved me so much He died for me.  He gave Himself up for me when I did not deserve it.  THAT’S how I ought to be loving other Christians- even if I don’t necessarily agree with them.

Oh, “they are sinners”, you say?  “They are wrong”, you say?

Was I not a sinner when Jesus loved me?  Was I not completely wrong at that time in my life?  I was.

Romans 5:8- “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (emphasis obviously mine)

Yes- I know what you are probably thinking- my love and allegiance first and foremost belong to God.  You are right! Then, though, my love for God is expressed in how I treat his created people, both sinners and the redeemed, which ought to be lovingly.

Mark 12:29-31-  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

This includes the way I approach someone with with the gospel, rebuke, or instruction.

1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (emphasis again mine)

Please God save me from going back to where I’ve been.  I’ve been a selfish jerk of a hypocrite.  Do not let me think that I am above someone else or cause disunion within the body over something that is not a complete heresy which You yourself can root out of Your own church.  Give me patience and fill me with love.  Make me a willing listener to what You have to tell me- even if it’s from the mouth of someone who has wronged me, or doesn’t follow a style I like, or someone who may be wrong in one area but right in what you are trying to tell me.  Holy Spirit spread Your truth into my life, and throughout Your church, using whomever you may please.  Dear God, do not let logistics or personal preferences cause Your beloved church to split anymore.  Start with me.  Change me.  give me Your love for Your church.

Synopsis

  • I should judge what and whom I listen to by God’s standard and word, not my own.
  • If I disagree with someone it ought to be lovingly shown, maintaining the unity that ought to exist within Christ’s body.
  • Not doing so is an evangelistic hindrance to non-believers.
  • God has graciously pulled me out of being a sinful wicked pharisaical religious loud-mouth.  I really don’t want to go back there again.
  • Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

Lyrics to the entire song Amalgamate by Five Iron Frenzy:

You’ve got a cause now, I heard You braggin’.
Always the fastest
One on the bandwagon.
So sit Down and I’ll tell you, what I’m Feeling, what I am feeling.
For a Lack of better words you are Stealing, you are stealing,
All of my joy away from me.
What ever happened to our unity?
We cut ourselves, our own limbs we’ve severed.
It’s time for us to pull together and stand, as one.
All eyes are turning towards the Son.
Drop your fists now, what you resent.
Let’s not forget who we represent.
And fall to our knees in unity.
Another day now, another doctrine,
Another monkey wrench in the system.
Some folks kneelin’, some just listen,
Some fallin’ out of the pews from twistin’.
I don’t care kinds, how you do it.
United we’ll stand and we’ll pull through it.
All were dead once.
All enslaved.
Now pull together ’cause we’ve all been saved.
The only Jesus this world’s gonna see, is the Jesus in you and me.
So pick your cross up, stop your swingin’.
Stop and look at the stink you’re bringin’ to this body with your fighting, you bust more more knuckles that the wrongs your righting.
What’s important, is where we relate, it’s the meaning of the word Amalagamate…

Dear Person McLastName,

As you are likely the only possible person who may read this, I love you as my brother in Christ.  I pray God will use you to reach many lives for Him.  I pray the Lord will bless you.  For every time that you asked me “Hey, Carla, how’s it going?” and I only said “fine” in a politely irritated manner, I apologize.  May the Lord bless your ministry.

With love,

Carla Gibson

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