Elitism?

Christians are a funny lot. No, make that a strange bunch. We have those on the fringes of faith who barely know much about the Bible, but their hearts are soft, safe and pure. They may be poorly educated but they are the salt of the earth. Then at the other end of the spectrum we have the well educated academic and the well read Bible scholar, different people but both of whom see themselves as elite, and better than most Christians. They are very different people, but each one will feel elite, whereas the soft hearted Christian is lowly and humble.

 

So, why am I saying this? It’s because recently I came across a Christian who falls into the well read Bible scholar, and who has decided that he must take the Bible literally. That’s ok I hear you say, but let me continue. We all know faithful ones who may differ on their beliefs about the Garden of Eden, and if it was an apple or a fruit that Eve took. Literalists and those who take that part of the story as picture language, seem to get along fine because we can see where they are coming from.

 

BUT (big BUT) what if the literalist believer says that the earth is really flat, and then rolls out many verses of Scripture to support that belief? In order to hold the flat earth principle, many things have to be thrown aside as conspiracies of the devil. Things like, man never being in space and certainly never walking on the moon. The curvature of the earth’s surface first calculated around 300BC is a lie of satan and we have all been deceived by the master of lies by devilish conspiracy theories. There was much more as I listened to my friend expound his own late belief that the earth is flat, but the main thing that came across was the elitist way he spoke. Those who didn’t believe like him were not as Biblically wise as he is. They had not properly studied and believed the Word of God, and so were not in the place he was. Make no mistake, there are many others like him across the world. The small group of Christians with me who listened, heard him in respectful silence, but wore a confused smile of disbelief. I say that because we found his new found ‘discovery’ to be harmless because he still fully believes Christ as Saviour, and all the other main characteristics of salvation.

 

However, having said all that, I find the educated, academic scholar to be more dangerous in their elitism. They use bigger words and advance their own theories about interpretation and many times do not back it up with Scripture, whether understood literally, pictorially or even in poetic form. As new ideas emerge from their theses or dissertations, it can puff up and produce a sense of worth which shows them above others. Sometimes then, basic and fundamental tenets of our faith are questioned, and we are prone to accept them because they come from a lettered theologian that we are expected to respect.

 

Give me those Christians who enjoy a simple faith every time, who barely know much about deep theology, but who read the Bible with a clear head, and an open heart which is humble, soft, safe and pure. Turns out I know just one Christian who believes in a flat earth, but what about you? Do you or anyone you know believe in the flat earth theory, Christian or not??

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If Only I’d

Some of the saddest words we will ever utter are “If only I’d..”. They are always used after an opportunity has passed, or a chance wasn’t taken, or faith weakened. They also come to mind after any opportunity to recover and make things right have long since gone.

 

We all live with regrets, some small and some large. It’s normally the big regrets that give us the most conscience trouble because in hindsight you can see how different things could have been if a little more time and patience and faith had been invested in the situation that we felt was so bad. I would go one step further. The pain when we realise the better opportunity was missed is always greater than the discomfort we thought we felt in the first place.

 

However, there is no magic solution because for as long as human beings have made decisions, there have always been the ones we lived with happily, and those we put up with until something better came along. That better ‘something round the corner’ never did come, did it, so we are left with a regret that can easily turn into a resentment?

 

If we are happy to quote “God’s Will” when things are going well, why do we leave God out of the picture if things don’t go as we had thought? Has God changed? Did we misjudge God in the first case when we openly talked about His will for our lives? I think we are guilty (I know I am) of giving God credit when He does things we agree with, but we distance ourselves from any notion of God’s will in any turn of events which we don’t like. In other words, we only trust His direction sometimes and that makes us part time Christians.

 

I trust and pray that at the end of 2018, none of us will be heard to utter the dreaded words, “If only I’d….” (you can fill in the rest yourself…). Now, have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Impressions

First impressions are not always wrong. Over my long-ish life, I have discovered that first impressions are usually confirmed as correct as time passes. What starts as a feeling, or thought, almost always turns into a certainty. But we do not, and should not, act on any first impressions because on occasion they can be wrong, and we do not have confirmation either way, well at least not quite yet. More time is needed for that.

 

I’m not saying this requires the gift of discernment. Perhaps you have been gifted in this, but experiences over the years may also have resulted in us recognising characteristics which draw people together, or maybe make us think ‘caution’, or ‘beware’. Don’t misunderstand me, I am certainly not advocating making an enemy, after all, we are told that a mark of a true disciple is Godly love for all, including our faith brothers and sisters.

 

Perhaps I need to be corrected, but I have found that we can almost immediately and naturally be attracted to a person and really get along with them. However, there are other times when I will love my brothers and sisters, but wouldn’t usually choose to have a coffee together. On a personal level, I do not like confrontation, so the ability to ‘love but not necessarily like’ a very few of my friends may work for me, and all the while does not affect my Christian walk. Question: Am I on my own, or is this your experience too?

Blogger’s Block

You have heard of writers who get writer’s block, well its distant cousin is Blogger’s Block. There is little known about what causes it, but apparently it can be a small thing. I don’t know how you deal with the things on your mind, for my part I tend to write it down. I suppose that makes me a blogger of sorts. Not so much to get a response, but as a kind of therapy to face the issues that mean something to me.

 

I usually end up writing about matters of faith, because that is the subject that means the most to me, and in a normal week about 2 or 3 blogs will be written and possibly published on a couple of systems. Responses are good for the most part, and even those who would not claim to be of the same church or faith group will be positive in their comments. So, what has happened during this month’s dry spell?

 

When something rocks the foundation of your belief system, it drags you down, and in dragging you down you stop doing those normal routine things. The bottom line is that you don’t see a way to work through your ‘problem’, and so the Blogger’s Block happens. Fortunately this doesn’t happen often, and my solution is to give it enough time to percolate through my subconscious and convince myself the thing I worried about was never really a problem in the first place. Was it? Or is it still there?

Berean?

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:10,11 NIV

 

I’m one of those annoying people who treats their faith as important. It is important on a surface level as I sit in a pew, sing the songs, pray, and soak in the sermon which has been prepared by a Godly pastor. But it’s more than that. If I am going to believe in the Gospel that my church teaches, and that it is truth, then for me it is important enough to know why I believe it. So, the theology behind the doctrine is important too because it must be in harmony with the Bible.

 

The result in my case is that I will look into the beliefs closely, and check them against Scripture and only then what other commentators say. The reason is simple. When we do anything else in this life, or buy into any secular scheme, we do it with much care. This is more important than choosing my next car, so it must be even more important that I get my theology right.

 

So far, so good, but there can be a problem that comes with the quest. While chasing up, and checking out the truth of doctrine, I find myself asking other pastors and leaders whom I respect, what they think, and more importantly, believe. This can come across as questioning their own faith, and that is far from the truth. I am not in college or university, so I don’t sit at the seat of learning to sharpen my faith. I have to do that part by bouncing my thoughts off other human beings, and I try to choose carefully. Unfortunately, I have found to my horror that I have unwittingly offended as I chase the importance of my church’s theology.

 

After all, each church has its own take on interpretation, so do I just stick a pin in a sheet of names and go there? Do I blindly accept the doctrine of the church I attend, or do I find out why? Eternity is real, so my thinking is that the articles of faith I accept are important. I trust I will be like the Bereans and examine the Scriptures first and foremost.

 

Question: How do you and I confirm the beliefs that are important to us and our church?

Dilemma

The definition of ‘dilemma’: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable.”

 

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 1 Kings 18:21 NIV

 

The thing that jumps out of the page at me is the fact that the people said nothing. Can you believe it? They didn’t make a decision either way, and in today’s language they sat on the fence. I may be taking this verse out of some context, but allow me some slack here.

 

The easiest thing to do when faced with a difficult choice is nothing. That is especially true when either choice is not a good one, or pleasant. Why not bury our face in our hands, close our eyes, and hope it goes away? But it doesn’t, and in fact it never does. Note that Elijah says, “how long”, telling us that ultimately a choice is necessary.

 

How I recognise this truth. Stuck between two thoughts, beliefs, or opinions and staying quiet, in the forlorn hope that the situation wasn’t there. But it is, and eventually I need to make a decision. No matter which way I choose, there will be disappointment and possibly hurt feelings, if not mine then someone else’s.

 

I have argued with myself for too long. How I wish I had someone to talk to. It’s time to decide and live with the consequences. I know understanding will be in short supply, and criticism will follow, even from friends. But what is more important? Saying nothing and continue to stew, or take a stand for conscience and getting rid of this burden?

Disown?

We do it on Facebook when we decide that someone posts things which are offensive, inappropriate, or racist, and we think nothing of it. We do it in life with some folks we come into contact with who might be opposite from ourself in so many ways and you get irritated and annoyed when you are in their company. Churches do it, by excommunicating or excluding those who do not uphold that church’s beliefs, and who go directly against doctrine. They might be called heretics. These are all examples we could live with, and we may have done one of these ourselves. Social media comes to the rescue, and makes it so easy to ‘unfollow’, ‘unfriend’ or ‘block’ that annoying person.

 

Does this mean we are free to disown anyone we take a dislike to, or one who goes against the things we like, accept, believe, or uphold? Disowning someone publicly has serious consequences, especially if we claim the name of ‘Christ’-ian. In life, there are lots of people who don’t agree with us in everything, and likewise there are those we don’t much like ourselves. Is it enough to disown someone purely because we don’t like their lifestyle? I don’t think so. We might decide never to holiday with them, but disown them? No.

 

What message are we giving to the people we would disown? Maybe it’s that they don’t live up to my or your standard? Is it because they are inferior? Could it be that we forget how we behaved when we were immature, and the behaviour we now detest, we once did ourselves? Am I getting uncomfortably close to the truth? If we really want to claim the name ‘Christ’-ian we need to believe His word and behave like He tells us. After all…..

 

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8