If you have been in the circle of people who attend church, or who were raised in a Christian home, or consider yourself religious, you may be recognizing the many different ways that people are speaking out about their faith. Maybe it’s been that way all along, but it seems to me that I am hearing more and more people share a shift in their thinking, when it comes to the bible, and their relationship with God. It can be interesting and confusing. It can be scary and frustrating.
The pat answer that many will give is that they are following the bible, but the bible has been interpreted differently for centuries. The picture I posted is only a drop in the bucket of all of the different denominations in the world. People that believe that Jesus comes to live inside of them when they are born again, will say that the Holy Spirit in them is showing them truth. But some of those people who say the same thing disagree. There’s NOT two different Holy Spirits. As the days grow closer to the second coming of Christ, believers can become judgmental of one another and downright angry. Why? Because they believe that they are right and that the other person is dangerously wrong, and they are leading people astray.
No doubt, each person believes they have a valid relationship with God through Jesus, however, they can have no tolerance for people who believe differently. You will hear often that God is love and His goodness brings us to repentance. (Romans 2:4) And then you will hear, “Yeah, BUT God is also a God of wrath. There are so many perspectives and so many answers to all these thoughts. Did Jesus take God’s wrath on Him on the Cross? All of it?
I’m reminded of what I heard many times growing up. Major on the major’s and minor on the minors when it comes to biblical opinions. I’m learning to say in SOME gray areas; “Here are my thoughts about that subject but I could be wrong.” My intent is not to pull apart the scriptures with answers to all these questions. My thoughts this morning is wondering if we all understand what the bible refers to as flesh. We define flesh as the way we met our own needs for love, acceptance and worth before we met Christ. Those flesh patterns don’t go away when we became a believer. The need to be right can sometimes be a flesh pattern. The feeling that I am responsible for someone else can be a flesh pattern. The lack of love and “righteous indignation” (as some call it) is many times flesh. Yes, Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple with a whip because they were making His Father’s house a supermarket, but that example is given way too many times to defend a person’s distain.
I can speak to this subject because I had “religious” flesh for many years, and it can still creep back in at times. My family taught me that my denomination was right and everyone else was wrong! None of us have the market cornered on ALL of the TRUTH in God’s Word. However, if we feel in our hearts that our beliefs are confirmed by God, we should stand firm on those beliefs. But can we all remember that Jesus said, “The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us? Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. Arguing or putting one another down is not a fruit of the Spirit. People will be persuaded by our life and our hearts much more than our words. We are here to influence others to enter a relationship with Jesus and to go from death to life. They have no idea what they are missing. But they ARE definitely watching us all! The enemy will make certain of that.
Are you grounded in your own personal faith? Do you spend time in the Word of God, asking God to open your eyes to what He wants to show you? Do you trust the Holy Spirit in you to give you a red flag if something isn’t right? And when you are certain someone is wrong and someone else is right, do you stop and ask God, “Father, what is true here?” Or do we just know we are right? I can give you lots of examples of something I thought was a certain way and I could pull out a scripture to prove it. But as I grew and saw the entirety of the Word of God and how it all fits together, I then saw other scriptures that made that one verse appear differently. Here is one example.
I am writing a book entitled, “Your Heart Matters.” The main purpose behind this title is to let people know when they have been hurt, it is important to embrace the pain in their heart because their heart matters. When we forgive or “let go” of an offense we need to know how heavy the offense was and how it has affected us to properly let go of it. A quick reciting of the words “I forgive you” can sometimes not bring true healing. Each time we are hurt an arrow goes into our hearts. When we see our God given value, we instinctively know that it’s NOT okay that the other person hurt us. And you know what? It’s NOT okay with God either. Because He loves us. If someone cannot see their value and will not place a proper boundary in their life, I will sometimes ask them a question. “What would you tell your child to do if this was happening to them?” Immediately I will get a response like, “Oh my goodness, I would tell them to let that person know they must stop, or to remove themselves from that person’s company.” You see, they value their child so they will want them to speak up or do something differently. God values us and He wants us to recognize when our heart has been hurt, process the hurt BEFORE letting it go. Lean into the pain and lean into Him. It’s the letting go of the hurt that brings healing, but the process of truly understanding how the hurt affected us is crucial. So, is forgiveness an event or a process? It’s both. This is just one example of how people can see things differently. The healing process takes time after we make the CHOICE to forgive. But some teach we must immediately forgive.
Another example of something controversial is Jeremiah 17:9 which tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” But in Ezekiel 36:26 we are told we have been given a new heart. Which is it? I’m doing a study on the word heart now and can’t wait to share more with you through my new book. I’m using these examples to let us all know that sometimes people are hugely misunderstood and attacked when they make certain statements about their faith. Let’s start asking the person, “What do you mean by that statement?” This way we can understand the entire thought process behind the one statement and then decide if we agree or disagree. This is how we can respond when we are walking after the Spirit and in our true identity. There are two camps that will stand firmly on their viewpoint of these verses but it’s much more complicated than you think. First, how are you defining the word heart? How are the scriptures defining the word heart? Let’s be patient with one another and show the world that we are God’s disciples because we love one another. Love covers a multitude of sins and Jesus is the greatest example showing us this truth.