Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

Back in March, while recovering from back surgery, I found myself caught up in blogs, comments on various blogs and facebook. With nothing better to do than lay around and let my body heal, it became an engaging way to pass the time. My intense tour through the blogosphere revealed something to me: it's a hard world out there. I found that especially true in the Christian corner of things where I was hanging out. One of the areas I explored deeply were the "discernment" blogs - those that point out alleged heresies, apostasies and other colorful aspects of the modern church. If you thought Jesus' note to the church in Loadicea was scathing, you ain't seen nothing yet!

I found myself in agreement with some bloggers, at odds with others and just plain confounded by some. It didn't help that at the time Rob Bell's bestseller on the doctrine of hell, "Love Wins", was hot off the presses and stirring things up even more than usual. Controversy, condemnation and righteous indignation was the name of the game.

As I returned to my normal routine, I found I had little time for the crazed exchange of words. My opinion has become this: just because I have an opinion, a facebook page and/or a blog doesn't really legitimize my belief, make me right or give me carte blanche to spout off whatever I want. Just when I thought I was free of it all, I found myself drawn back into it again - this time over the doctrine of Calvinism.

My wife simply shook her head and said, "How do you let this happen? Do you really have time for that?"

I had to check myself again and ask, "Randy, what are you doing here?" I thought back to the reason I created this blog. What is The Resistance all about? Who and what am I resisting. I read over the verse at the top of the page to find my answer: "Um...Satan. Yeah, that's it." Why did all the resistance, all the battles seem to involve Christian on Christian savagery of words?

I'm not saying it's wrong to point out dangers in the church. I'm certainly not saying Satan does not work from within against us. I am questioning our motivation and success if we are leveling all of our guns at each other. If we fire all of our ammunition at our brothers in arms, what is left to launch a volley at the enemy? Old Scratch can just kick back in his recliner, sip from a cold one, and watch us shred each other with a smile of contentment. He and his demons can wager on who is going to score more points today: the Calvinists or the Armenians? The Baptists or the Pentecostals? The Methodists or the Lutherans? The KJV only crowd or the fans of the new NIV2011?

What are we doing here? I had to open up to a verse I became very familiar with in raising my oldest girls - Ephesians 4:29. You see, I was an only child and I never understood sibling rivalry. I didn't know that sisters could be so downright mean to each other. As I saw my girls saving their finest fighting finesse for each other, I knew I had to find a way to teach them as a family, we should be building each other up, not tearing one another down. God led me to this verse. It contains some powerful words:

"corrupt communication" - The word translated as "communication" is "logos." I bet you've heard that one before as it is one of the words used in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ (check out John 1:1). Words are powerful - they can build up or destroy. Jesus is the embodiment of God's word. This living logos is a manifestation of grace, truth, mercy and justice. How do our words compare?

"use of edifying" - The word translated "edifying" literally is an architectural word indicating erecting an edifice. Our words are to be used to build each other up, not tear each other down. I don't mean to sound redundant, I just want to express my point. Are our words a wrecking ball? A jack hammer? Explosives that are demolishing others?

I am coming to see the greatest enemy we face is each other. We can take the simplest thing, the death of Christ on the cross for the sin of mankind, and turn it into a brutal argument that divides believers into various camps seething and gnashing at each other. We bash each other over whether we wear ties or t-shirts, whether we listen to Christian rap or hymns written a hundred years ago, whether we read from the lofty language of the King James Translation or the modern vernacular of the Message. Why can't we rejoice that we are saved by the blood of Christ? Why can't we worry more about clothing ourselves in love and mercy? Why can't we just agree it's a joyful noise to the Lord no matter what the genre? Why can't we just be glad somebody is reading the Bible?

Why am I here? Who am I resisting? How can we build each other up and stop tearing each other down? What if we dedicated as much time and effort to fighting the true enemy, Satan and his nefarious schemes, as we do defending our particular take on an area of theology? What if we prayed for our brothers and sisters in Christ as much as we criticized them? Can you imagine just what might be accomplished?

Ultimately, as I look across our Christian blogs, facebook pages and flocks and leaders, I see we have one massive case of sibling rivalry. If we aren't careful, the family line may end with us.


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