Sunday, December 26, 2004
By Michele Rayburn
Picture a swimming class. "How to Swim Like A Champion!". Sub-topics: Proper breathing, the basic strokes, getting maximum speed, kicking techniques, advanced hand-cupping. You get the idea. And let's say the class lasted for, oh...maybe a year. Or two.
Oh. And did I tell you that you don't actually get to swim? There's no water. It's just a classroom. With email follow-up studies, monthly newsletters, coaching, etc. But no water. No swimming.
Ridiculous, isn't it?
Well, today the church can be a place of great learning…but the people don't seem to be experiencing fellowship with Christ and with one another. It’s like learning how to swim, but never actually going swimming. We're not jumping in and living this Christian life, at least not when we gather together on Sunday.
The focus doesn’t seem to be on fellowship, but on more learning. Learning "how" but never "doing". Has the church become a school? We take notes as the Pastor or teacher speaks. But when we close our books and "class" is over, we say our formal "hello’s" and "good-bye’s", and then we’re on our way. Is this what the early church modeled for us? Is this what God intended? Do we have that "fervent love for one another", a desire to "build one another up in the faith", and yes…even to "bear one another’s burdens"? Do we "confess our sins to one another and pray for one another"? Or, are we just too busy and in a hurry to care?
If we’re not experiencing fellowship, why not?
Has the fervent love for one another been replaced with a fervent love for something else? Are we not bearing one another’s burdens because it might be called "gossip"? Are we not confessing our sins to one another because of the fear of condemnation and ridicule and "real" gossip? Why do we not have a sense of togetherness and dependency and a need for each other?
Putting on a façade that everything is O.K., and that we have no needs, lacks the life of Christ. We can talk about obedience and good deeds all day, but until our hearts are softened by the Spirit of Christ through communion with Him, we will not be able to have fellowship with one another. "If we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another." If we aren’t in fellowship with Christ, it will show in our relationship with one another. And if the Pastor isn’t directing our thoughts toward Christ, it will show in our relationship with one another.
Where is our heart today? Is it in great learning? "Knowledge puffs up." That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to learn. The question is, why is all this great learning not drawing us closer to Christ and to each other? What is missing?
Love Builds Up
Do we read the Scriptures just to learn about Christ, or to meet Him there? Is it a spiritual experience or an academic one? Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me." (John 5:39) Jesus is our Life. And until we experience Him, we cannot walk according to the Spirit. And unless we are walking according to the Spirit, "walking in the Light", we cannot have fellowship with one another. We can’t have love for one another unless we abide in Him, because love is a fruit of the Spirit.
How do we swim? How do we have real fellowship? It begins with Christ. If we have fellowship with Him, we will have fellowship with one another. If a church is not conducive to fellowship, then it is not assembled as God intended it to be. Our "great learning" should be a time of "great meditations", "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs", sweet communion in the Lord together as One Body. Christ is our life. And when we walk in His Light, and drop the things of darkness that stand in our way, we can have fellowship with one another.
If we dissect the Christian life into a series of "how-to’s", instead of keeping it all together as a Christian walk, we will never begin to swim. I think we all know "how to swim". But we just need to make the decision to spend time in fellowship with Jesus, and then start "swimming" in love and fellowship with one another. We need to be reminded of the "how-to's". We need to constantly renew our minds. But let’s not forget to go to the water and swim.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Do you know what Daisy Theology is?
1. It quenches the peace of God.
2. It causes believers to experience condemnation, in direct violation of Romans 8:1.
3. It steals the joy of salvation.
4. It's contagious, spreading it's lie like a virus, everytime someone "sneezes" it.
5. It is rampant in the minds of many believers, and therefore in the church.
6. It is seldom directly taught from the pulpit, but it's virus is smeared all over congregations by implication.
7. It seems to "make sense", but is utterly unbiblical, destructive, and anti-Christ (I know, "Picky, picky, picky").
Daisy Theology says, "He loves me ... He loves me not ... He loves me ... He loves me not." Some seem to spend their whole Christian lives that way. They may not say that God doesn't love them, but they feel it. And they feel it because they think it. And they think it because it's taught to them every time performance-based Christianity is held up as an idol. And it's a shame. And it's not just a shame. It's a blasphemous denial of the Cross of Christ, where He said, "it is finished". It's Galatianism at its most subtle. It's the attitude that God loves me when I'm "good", and frowns with disappointment and anger when I'm not "good".
It's screamed from the pulpit every time condemnation is heaped on the sheep, because they aren't performing to perfection. It's screamed by pop Christian books that consist of nothing but 10 or 40 or 100 "rules to live by". Books like How to Be A Good ______ [husband, wife, friend, Christian, worshiper, charity worker, pray-er, etc. ad nauseum]. Written by men and women who know that they fall short, but think it is incumbent on them to tell everyone else how to be a "Good ______." Not precious principles from a loving God who loves us because He chose to before the foundation of the world, but rules to measure by. Rules to condemn by.
Daisy Theology is one of the most subtle and destructive corruptions of the Word of God that has ever been cooked up by the Doctrines of Demons, Inc. lie factory.
Don't buy their product! Call the Better Bible Bureau and report them! If you are Christ's, there is nothing that can separate you from His love. Don't forget that. There is nothing you can do that will make Him love you more or love you less. He loves you, period. The curtain has been torn apart. The wall has been torn down. It is finished. He loves you, period.
Don't even look at a daisy, until you are completely recovered.
Friday, December 03, 2004
We all know the ravages of a root of bitterness. How it springs up when you least expect it. How it shrivels the soul, and the face, of the one who has it. How it hurts families and churches, and leaves bloody wounded bodies laying around with verbal bullet holes in them.
Tell a person who has a root of bitterness that they have a root of bitterness, and you know what happens, don't you? Their bitterness bubbles up and splashes acid on you!
But where does the root of bitterness come from? What is the root of the root?
On the surface, we would say that it's caused by unforgiveness. But why the unforgiveness? Why on earth would we not heed the scripture that says, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."? (Ephesians 4:32)
I. First, we don't fully understand the radical nature of God's grace toward us. We think He forgave us at salvation, but now we must meet some condition of "holiness" for future forgiveness, and we can't meet that condition. But the truth is that Jesus met the conditions for our total and radical forgiveness of all our sins -- past, present and future. We must repent of our thinking that "we must do something to stay under the grace of God" (that's legalism).
II. Second, we impose that same legalistic requirement on others. We put conditions on them to earn our forgiveness. It's pointless to tell someone with a root of bitterness to "just forgive them". They think, "But they haven't met my conditions!" And of course their "conditions" are seldom met, and so the unforgiveness piles up, and piles up, and a root grows down under the decayed, mossy, stinky, soil-rich compost pile of unforgiveness.
1. Understand the total radical forgiveness of God. [Sidebar: interestingly, "radical" comes from the Latin for "root"] God forgave us at the root, the only conditions having been already met at the Cross and at our faith in Jesus Christ (even the faith was a gift, of course).
2. Forgive, like God does, at the root, without conditions! Don't hold it against them! Let it go! Let fervant love cover a multitude of sins! No requirements! Sorry, I know I'm shouting, but you've got to get it, or a root of bitterness will plant itself deep in your mind, and the putrid fruit it grows will kill those around you, and wrap it's tendrils around the neck of your soul till you can't breathe!
Of course, there may be "requirements" for fellowship, and there may even be discipline required in some instances. But that is separate from heart forgiveness, for which there are no biblical requirements. Here's my working definition of forgiveness: "Not holding anything against someone in a way that would cause you to withhold your love for them." Pretty simple, but the key there is "love". When we don't forgive someone, we stop loving them, because unforgiveness quenches the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit, which is Love, dries up. By the way, the rest of the fruit of the Spirit dries up also -- joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. That's not how I want to live. How about you?
So what's the root of a root of bitterness? It's lack of an understanding of grace after salvation! When we understand the awesome ongoing grace and forgiveness of God after salvation, and He lives His life through us to show that same grace to others, a root of bitterness cannot grow.
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;" (Hebrews 12:15)