I’m going to get lots of opinions publishing this post. However I’d be less of a man if I say that I don’t have my own. I’m saddened by recent news with what’s happening to a local church I used to attend when I was younger.
Who I am and why I’m Writing this
I write this not as a critic, skeptic or even someone who has know-hows and whatnots in church building. I write this as a sinner in constant need of grace and salvation. I write this as a man who knows only that I have a relationship with Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
I have never been in a seminary, never taken any theological classes, and right now, I find myself not even in a church group because of my situation in life as a new dad and founder and CEO of 2 startup companies.
All I know is that God saved me, He is my Lord and I read His word daily and pray. I’ve read the Bible for 9 times now since I was 12 (I’m currently 26 years old). I’m a slow reader and as such, I read only 1 chapter a day – everyday.
No Black and White with Grace
I admit I do not completely know what happened. And as such I’m not even qualified to write this. However I think that people may benefit from my thoughts and convictions about the matter at hand.
The summary is that the local church is in a state of confusion as some of the church leaders opted to leave and start their own church. The reason for this is that they do not agree with some of the things in the policies and beliefs of the local church. Most of these things are in gray areas.
What? Gray areas? In the Bible?
Yep. As it is, God did not give us all the answers there is.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” – Deutoronomy 29:29
Why does God keep secrets?
I don’t know. But what I do know is this: the character of Christ is where knowledge ends and faith begins.
It is what will make clear the gray areas in your life.
What are some gray areas we have in the Bible? Check out Matthew 22:15-22
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” tweet
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” tweet
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. tweet
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” tweet
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. tweet
Brilliant verse isn’t it? However, notice Jesus’ commentary on Matthew 17:24-27
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” tweet
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. tweet
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” tweet
26 “From others,” Peter answered. tweet
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” tweet
Notice that Jesus says “But so that we may not cause offense…” You see, Jesus, by God’s standards did not have to pay the temple tax. He is the Son of God! But to be kind, to not give offense, Jesus still paid it.
That is the Character of Christ. To be kind is more important than to be right. Grace. He conformed to the system of man so as to ‘not give offense’ but through it all, Jesus knew his purpose and mission and identity.
Romans 14 is a brilliant chapter on the gray areas of God’s Word and on personal convictions.
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. tweet
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. tweet
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: tweet
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’” tweet
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. tweet
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. tweet
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. tweet
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. tweet
Focusing on what is clean and unclean to eat, or what day to work in or not, is not the point! It distracts people from the bigger picture and the personal mission we all have as Christians – knowing and loving Christ and sharing Him to others.
There are some things that I don’t agree with my local church. One example is that I am not able to lead a group of my own or serve in ministry if I am not connected to a higher group or what is commonly known as an ‘upline’. I believe – and this is my personal conviction – if you know Christ and His Word and you can share it with others and teach them about God, you should do it.
You don’t need an upline to serve God. All you need is a deep, personal relationship with Him. While it’s true that having an upline puts a system in place – a system where leaders are ensured to teach only what is biblically correct, there are outliers such as myself who feel like the system is a chain that disables me to serve my God.
And so what do I do? I blog. In this way, I am able to share Christ and what He has done in my life to the world.
Should I be prevented from blogging then, because I am not connected to an upline church group?
It is a gray area of the church that I believe may not be given light to until the end of time. The problem with the church today is it has grown so complex, so difficult, so political, so legalistic, so centralized – so… humanized.
When it is, in fact divine.
Knowledge, rules, and systems will not capture the heart and soul of the church. Only faith, prayer, constant surrender to the will of the Lord and the great commission will keep the church what it is – the body of Christ.
To the church leaders who set up a new church that has convictions relative to what they truly believe in, I hope and pray that God bless your efforts. After all, we believe in the same fundamental beliefs in terms of life, heaven, hell, sin and salvation. That is what is important. That in itself is divine.
Other rules, other systems, other things are put in place because we are human.
To the local church that I grew up in, keep on fighting the good fight. We are all on the same team. The same body of Christ. Even if our humanity and convictions formed from our limited earthly knowledge causes us to form divisions, the fundamentals of our faith remain the same. That Jesus Christ came here on Earth, died a brutal, horrible death to save and cleanse us from our sins, give us a new hope, mission and purpose and that we should share this truth to the world.