The Dislocated Body of Christ

14 07 2012

What I want to post about is an issue of so much importance.  Yet, I don’t even know how to start it.

How is it, O Christian, that you look down at your brother that doesn’t believe just like you?

How is it that you judge your sister because she thinks speaking in tongues is for real and you do not?

Why do you seclude yourself from the Christian couple down the street just because they are “King James only”?

Can you have fellowship with an “Arminian”?  Or are you too good for that because you claim to believe in “Calvinism”?

If you are more prone to show mercy, do you think those that “tell it like it is” are too merciless and judgmental?

Of course, these are just a sampling of questions to prove a point.  I am not here right now to debate and argue about these matters.  The point in this post is to say that those that follow Christ are to be united as a “Body” and we are doing an absolute awful job at it.

While Christians smile, have happy faces, and raise their hands while singing in church, I must admit that they can be just as judgmental as the people outside the church.  (By judgmental, I don’t mean merely having an opinion as many think is judging, but looking down at others.  More on that in a later post.)  One person might think all “Baptists” aren’t really “in touch with God”.  One may think all “Pentecostals” are heretics because they speak in tongues.  Some “Pentecostals” may think everyone is wrong if they don’t speak in tongues.  One may believe that God alone brings a sinner to repentance and despises others who believe that people make that decision themselves.  I could go on and on.  I hope you get the idea.

Fellow followers of Jesus Christ, these thing must not be this way.  We are not only doing damage to ourselves as a “Body”, but also saying to the world, “Hey, we can’t agree and can’t stand each other.  But, come on in anyway!  We will try our best to like you.  You just need to believe everything just the way we do.”

Personal evaluation time:  Can you have fellowship with someone that doesn’t believe just like you?  I am not talking about the major doctrinal things that are in plain black-and-white in the Bible.  I am talking about the little things that you constantly hear come up and being debated.  If you’re a “Baptist”, can you have enjoyable fellowship with a “Pentecostal”, “Lutheran”, or “Non-Denominational” Christian and vise-versa?  Or does it bother you so much that “those people” are “wrong” that you shun them away?  What if another Christian is actually wrong about something?  Can you go to them gently and with sincerity let them know?

For example:  You meet a “Lutheran” or “Presbyterian” who may believe it’s okay to baptize babies.  Maybe you meet a Baptist that doesn’t baptize babies, but rather does a “baby dedication” and believe in 3 of the 5 points of Calvinism.  What is the first thing that comes to mind?  Do you automatically get a sour look on your face and think to yourself, “That’s just wrong!”?  Do you automatically start a debate about what you disagree with?  Are you sure you’re the right one?  Do you have to make sure you let the other know your right?

Don’t get me wrong.  There are surely things (and people) that we must stand our ground on, defend, and reject.  It has to, however, be perfectly in line with what God says in Scripture.  I am not talking about those things here.  I am talking about silly things we can easily get carried away with arguing and defending that we reject a brother or sister for whom Christ died.  We end up cutting part of the Body off and saying with our actions, “I have no use for you for you are not a (insert body part here) like me.”

But enough of my words.  What does God say to us through His Word?

First, are you separating yourself from a follower of Christ who may not understand as much as you?

    “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.”  Romans 14:1
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”  Romans 15:1

Pretty much the whole 14th chapter and some of the 15th chapter of Romans deal with those whose faith and understanding are weaker than than others. Another good passage is 1st Corinthians 8 where Paul writes about eating meat offer to idols and making those weaker to stumble.   There are so many grey issues that people have different opinions about because God decided not to make plain for some reason.  One person believes such-and-such is sin while another does not.  Is it plain-as-day a sin in the Scriptures or just your conviction?  If God did not plainly say it, why do you judge another as if He did?  If someone worships God with rock music, then with rock music he worships while another thinks that you should only worship with hymns.  So what?  There are just some things that are not worth dividing the Body of Christ over.

Do you think yourself  “more spiritual” and know more about the Scriptures than others do?  Do not look down at them!

 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  … Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. – Roman 12:3-16

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? … If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” …Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27

I guess my challenge to you is this:  Do not make trivial matters that are not black-and-white in Scripture major dividing issues, even if YOU think they are.  Indeed, if people are preaching a different gospel, as Paul says, let them be cursed of God.  (Galatians 1:8)  But if you are making a big deal and dividing the Body about differences in understanding God and His Word, you need to check yourself.  You or I will NEVER understand God or His Word perfectly this side of eternity.  Therefore, do not act like you do and tear someone else down that doesn’t think just like you.

I wish I could think of the perfect words to bring the “Body of Christ” back together, but it will take peoples eyes being opened, repentance, and a move of God in our hearts.  Unfortunately, the world can see what we are doing with each other. We need to come together despite our some of our petty differences and honor God as the Body of Christ.  Can you do it?    How can the world truly know we are Christ’s disciples if all we do is argue with each other?

“By this all with know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Jesus said to follow Him!

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8 responses

16 07 2012
ballista74

This is indeed a good issue that one could write books on. Personally, I can usually worship with anyone that holds fast to Scripture, which means that if they acknowledge Christ over their following of men (denominational rules), I’m okay in most venues.

The problem comes when people do not conform to Christ, which sadly happens all too much within denominational circles for some reason or another. Much of it stems from the fact that they do not recognize God’s Church, but only recognize their own. The only one that rightfully exists is the one that He made.

You give a good example of baptizing babies. It really doesn’t wash with Scripture, mainly because every example of baptism we are given dictates that a choice to follow be made. Unfortunately, it presents a barrier to people actually doing that, since they rely on the work of the baptism they had as an infant to justify themselves. Yet the fruit of their lives is clearly on display so a majority clearly see that they don’t follow Christ in faith or have Him at all.

Standardization on Christ as the head (people haven’t been submitting to His headship in a very long time) in holy fear and rejecting the direction of men is really the only thing that will bring people back from the brink of their deception. Unfortunately, people either don’t know enough of God’s standard, or assume that the Bible is silent on something when it’s not, or simply just don’t respect it at all (I see this incredibly more in different places as time goes by).

17 07 2012
sunshinemary

I agree with ballista74 on the baptism issue, although so long as they acknowledge that they are saved by faith in Christ I guess I wouldn’t make a huge deal about it. There are those (I won’t name the denomination but we know who I’m talking about) that believe that you are saved by baptism and this is contrary to Scripture and should be rejected by Bible-believing Christians.

Otherwise, you are right that we shouldn’t die on the minor doctrinal hill. It’s a waste of precious time.

17 07 2012
Chris

I agree with what you both said about baptism. I did not mention it to debate it, but to use it as an example. Yes, to say that salvation comes from baptism is not in the Scriptures and must be refuted. Also there may be those that baptize babies out of tradition or symbolism and do not make a doctrine out of it…kind of like a “baby dedication”. What makes that wrong is when, like Jesus said to the Pharisees, they “make the traditions of men the commandments of God.”

Thanks you both for your comments.

18 07 2012
Observations on the Denominational Jesus | The Society of Phineas

[…] the Lord? Is it Jesus Himself and alone or is it the denomination? amereservant writes (see also The Dislocated Body of Christ, which is more or less on the same point): We’ve all seen it at some time or another, one […]

3 09 2012
UK Fred

There is one thing that Mark Driscoll has said that I fervently wish every Christian would adopt. He says, “Don’t shoot the good guys.” If someone worships in a different style, or has a different view of some of the peripheral beliefs from you, don’t block this person out and claim that he or she is not a “true Christian”.

5 09 2012
empathologicalism

Throw The Personal Jesus (TM) into the mix, and what do you do?

5 09 2012
Chris

I suppose say goodbye to biblical christianity because one can make it into whatever they feel.

5 10 2012
Jesus said to Follow Him! « Quit Playing Church

[…] from the Bible that aren’t really there, making ourselves look better than we really are, and why there is not unity in the Church (the Body of Christ, not […]

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