Monday, December 8, 2008

That They May Be One-- Part 2

In 1 Cor. 15 Paul tells us the content of the gospel he preached. "The Messiah died for our sins, exactly as the scriptures tell it....He was buried....He was raised on the third day" (MES). That's the gospel. But what about_______ (you fill in your main concern)? What about it? Read 1 Cor. 15 for yourself. THAT'S THE GOSPEL!!!!

Of course, the gospel does have lifestyle implications. But do not confuse the implications with the gospel. The implications are our love gift to God. Salvation is God's love gift to us. It is clear that Christians should be the most moral people on earth. They should also be the most kind and understanding. When it comes to lifestyle, we are all at different places. Discussion, convincement? Certainly, there is a place for that. But not rejection. Only those without sin can throw the stones (words spoken concerning a prostitute). If we lead folks to Christ and his word, and if they accept him from the heart, we must leave them in God's hands. Certainly, we should never reject people over ideas. I don't know about you, but I know a bit about me. I became a believer in 1971. My ideas have changed many times since then. There is little charity in the words heretic or cult. Be careful what you say. By your words, says the scripture, you will be justified or condemned.

I believe, just like the creed says, that Jesus was "Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father." But I know of people, some with very Christlike characters and sincere believers in the larger hope, who believe that Christ was definitely NOT God and was a created being. They will affirm that he is the Son of God, sinless, preexistent, and incarnate. But to these folks, to talk of a Trinity or make Jesus fully God smacks of polytheism. And, yep, the early Christians struggled over this too. I guess I've got to say (Arrggh....!) that if they believe that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, they pass the gospel test. Even my "fire and brimstone" friends, if they accept Christ as their Savior, pass the "test."

Now I don't like either of those beliefs. But I don't think that I can go beyond the gospel. Acceptance of the gospel defines a Christian, not agreement with certain thoughts or ideas. Ouch! Hurts doesn't it?

My best friends (not counting my wife of course!) recently sent their kid off to college. She is a beautiful Christian girl. She isn't (and her parents aren't) in agreement with me at all about this hell deal. They would be considered by most much more traditional evangelicals. Anyway, she went to a certain "Christian" college. She was baptized as a believer but didn't see baptism or other practices quite the way the sponsoring denomination did. Because she did not agree with everything they believed many of her fellow students doubted the genuineness of her Christianity.
How pathetic that we treat each other like this! I know of some who have no use at all for any organized church because they disagree with "churchy ideas." That is, of course, their prerogative. Still, I think it is sad how often we attack and resent each other over "religion." What about the Master's prayer? Doesn't it matter?

I once heard a little poem that describes our sad condition.

Think as I think,
No more, no less,
That I am right and no one else.
Say what I say.
Do just what I do.
And then and ONLY then
Will I have fellowship with you!

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