If I surrender all, what do I get to keep?

August 25, 2006 § 10 Comments

So, yeah, I was a tad emotional in last night’s post as judetherat gently pointed out. I suppose every time i start to post on the issue of doctrine and Christianity today, I become overwhelmed by the hugeness of the issue, and end up becoming frustrated and emotionally distraught. I suppose I need to break things down into smaller issues, and go at them one at a time, only they all seems so inter-connected to me. And of course, once someone starts pointing out problems, they are called upon to offer solutions or explanations or to defend one’s POV.

It’s difficult for me, because this is probably the issue about which I am most passionate, and yet have the most difficulty expressing in any effective manner. The Dissolution and Drifting of the Church from what she is suppose to be. I think that most folks would agree with me that the church of today doesn’t look a whole lot like what she did in the first century. And i think that most folks would agree that with so many denominations, someone has to be wrong about something.

Lately, I have felt like the little dutch boy, trying to plug holes in an increasingly leaky dyke. Everytime i see a doctrine that has gone awry or hear a teaching that is blatant heresy, my instinct is to correct it. But those are merely the symptoms of the bigger problem. A failure to actually trust and submit to this Man Jesus.

Christians today look almost identical to the world. It is easy to call oneself a Christian today, because it no longer requires the commitment it once did. A commitment to actual obedience and a life changed. Anyone can say “I am born again” and then it is never questioned whether they are “saved.” “Once saved always saved, now pass me a cold one, the game’s almost on.” People go about their daily lives, never changed by Christ, never moved by His Spirit, never dying to self, never knowing the transforming love of the God Who created them.

The fact is, Jesus asks for all of ourselves– our heart mind soul and strength. We are called to turn our whole being over to Him. We are called to obey Him. Obedience means we need to know His commands, and the promises are only subject to actual obedience. So many just want the promises but not the work that actually goes into it.

But if we agree that all the denominations out there can’t all be right, who is? How about everybody is; and isn’t. It’s like all these folks out there are holding pieces of the puzzle, but the puzzle pieces are covered in all manner of crap. It is on each of us to actually uncover those pieces– the ones that fit scripture– and put them all together, and actually come together as Christ’s holy bride. When we are all united in love of God and love for our neighbors, and not fighting amongst ourselves over stupid doctrine– because we are subject to Christ alone, and not to traditions of men.

When will we learn that what Jesus means when He tells us to love one another is so much bigger than we have allowed ourselves to understand?

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§ 10 Responses to If I surrender all, what do I get to keep?

  • breckinwood says:

    I think part of the problem is that so few people are actively involved in self examination. They aren’t aware that their churches are sick or dead because they haven’t been examining themselves closely enough. People take too light a view of sin, of worship, of prayer- of all things pertaining to God and our relationship to Him.
    If we look at the big, global picture TOO much, though, it can be SO easy to become discouraged by what is out there. Worry about personal holiness, what’s going on in your own home and church, and work to infect the world with that. There are a lot of apostate churches, blatant heresies. Then, there are those who, like you say, have pieces of the puzzle, but not all of them. They may be right.
    The thing is, we serve an infinite God, who has infinite wisdom. We are finite. The church is finite. We are all blinded by sin in some regards. Some things that some individuals understand can’t be comprehended by others. Some things can’t be comprehended by anyone but God.
    We are going to get things wrong, or half right, but those things necessary to salvation are so clear that those who are saved cannot miss them or get them wrong. That Jesus is the Son of God, and died to save us from our sins- primary issue. That there is a resurrection of the body and soul- primary issue. That we must be certain that the Christ we follow is the Christ preached in Scripture- primary issue. And there are others- the Apostles’ Creed lays them out pretty clearly. As long as denominational distinctives don’t contradict, refute, or add to the primary issues of scripture, then chances are very good it is a true church. Even if we don’t necessarily agree with certain distinctives, it doesn’t mean we can’t have some level of unity with those others on the basis of those things which AREN’T distinctives.

  • krikketgirl says:

    Agreed.
    I think, to me, the primary drive must be to know why I do what I do and to prove it. That is, not to do a thing because someone else thinks it is the right or acceptable thing, but rather to examine the matter and myself as closely as I possibly can, given my knowledge (or lack thereof) and whatever wisdom God sees fit to impart to me.
    The difficult part comes in not judging others according to what I believe or how I read Scripture. At some point, I have to do what I do and know why, and leave the rest to God.

  • DT says:

    We are going to get things wrong, or half right, but those things necessary to salvation are so clear that those who are saved cannot miss them or get them wrong.
    Unfortunately, it has been men who have been deciding what are the “essentials” to salvation. But what if that doesn’t line up with what Jesus actually taught? Yes, the Apostles Creed certainly lines up some heavy issues paramount to being able to call oneself a Christian. But what if that’s only half the gospel?
    The Evangelicals rely on teachings about Jesus. But what if we are saved by the teachings made by Jesus? What if He really meant that parable of the sheep and the goats? What if He really meant it when He said it is by our obedience to Him that we will enter into the kingdom and by which our love for Him will be known?
    Even the demons believe. But they neither love, nor obey. Is our brand of Christianity today that much different?

  • krikketgirl says:

    But where do you draw the line? How do you decide who is more right than anyone else? How do you decide who is “saved” and who isn’t? How do you define a true and pure and fault-free doctrine? There is no marker other than “by your fruits you shall know them.”
    Ultimately, the only person I can be responsible for is myself. Knowing that all have sinned and all have fallen short, how can I set myself up as any kind of a judge of anyone else? I am to judge my own heart, to assess my own motives, to run the race just as hard and as well as I can.

  • DT says:

    I think, to me, the primary drive must be to know why I do what I do and to prove it. That is, not to do a thing because someone else thinks it is the right or acceptable thing, but rather to examine the matter and myself as closely as I possibly can, given my knowledge (or lack thereof) and whatever wisdom God sees fit to impart to me.
    *nod* I agree. I guess that’s why I’m so driven to look at church history– to not only know what i believe, but where it comes from and why. BUt i suppose not everyone is going to do that.
    The difficult part comes in not judging others according to what I believe or how I read Scripture. At some point, I have to do what I do and know why, and leave the rest to God.
    Excellent point. And yet, we also need to be ready to exhort our brothers and sisters with the truth in love. And as says above, we should examine ourselves and see how we line up with scripture.

  • DT says:

    But where do you draw the line? How do you decide who is more right than anyone else? How do you decide who is “saved” and who isn’t? How do you define a true and pure and fault-free doctrine? There is no marker other than “by your fruits you shall know them.”
    I understand your point, and the truth is, I don’t decide any of these things– Christ is our judge. But as any Christian who has ever argued with an athiest will tell you, there is an Absolute Truth, right? We believe that, as Christians, Jesus is that truth, and He has a plan for us, and He has a specific will for this world and history. Heck, He is mindful of the hairs on our heads, do you think there is any detail of His plan for our salvation that is too small?
    Should we then allow ourselves to be blaise about any part of His will for us? If He says that He wants us to stand on our heads for 5 minutes a day as part of our means for salvation, our response should be “Yes, Lord” and then do it, and then we can speculate as to why He might ask us to do such a thing.
    The fact is, Jesus preached some mighty hard sermons, and followed them up with “Do this and you will be saved.” But we aren’t taught to “do this” anymore. We are taught “Believe this, and you will be saved” Or at least, many people, mostly evangelical protestants, are taught this way.
    Jesus Himself addressed this when He said, “You do well to believe, but even the demons believe– and tremble.” The demons know the Judgement to come. And we have been warned. If Jesus tells us that the keys to the kingdom are found in not only knowing Him as Christ and Risen Saviour but also in doing all that He commands, should we allow ourselves to separate the two? After all, He tells us that the ones who do not do as He commanded are going to be sent to Hell with the devil and his angels. That’s some heavy stuff!
    So no, I am not the judge of what is right and true doctrine, or of who God will save or not save. But if I can be a voice of reason to my brothers and sisters to pay attention to what Jesus has truly said, I will do that.

  • krikketgirl says:

    I grant completely that we should not be blasé about Christ’s teachings, and I will go as far as granting that there are many who are not being taught that they need to be obeying, not just believing. But I still believe that 1) most of the Christians I know (within and without my particular ‘style’ of belief) are trying their best to do Christ’s commands, not just ‘believing’ them; 2) it is impossible for me to know whether anyone besides myself is focused on doing or not; 3) there is no one perfect, not one. We will always be left with intentions, because our deeds, our beliefs, and our obedience will always be at best inadequate.

  • Emotional or not, you are still one smart lady. 🙂 *hugs*

  • ashenfox says:

    I suppose I’m not the first to have attempted this metaphor, but I was thinking the denominational doctrine problem would be more like several people getting copies of the same jigsaw puzzle and accidentally getting the pieces all mixed up. As they gather the pieces back, there will be multiple copies of some pieces in each box and other pieces will be missing…until they get closer to finishing the puzzle, at which point they can only complete the picture by combining their efforts.

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