Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's not the little things

5:35 p.m. Today's project was to lead my --or God's--women's Bible study group in discussion of questions about listening to God's voice. We touched on God's persistence, even nagging at times, that we obey Him in a particular matter, such as witnessing to a client, that a gal in our group mentioned.
when he speaks, do we obey?

The liveliest part of our discussion concerned those areas not explicitly mentioned in scripture, like (most famously) "should a Christian drink alcohol?"I quit drinking alcohol socially altogether when I got saved, but that was my conviction and manner of walk that I chose. Other Christians see no harm in it, and alcohol consumption is not condemned in the Word. But drunkenness is! "Be not drunk with wine, which is dissipation, but filled with the Spirit," Ephesians 5:18 says. Conversely,  Jesus drank wine (John 2:3, creating wine for a wedding at Cana) and was accused by the Pharisees of being a "winebibber" in Luke 7:34; later, the Apostle Paul told Timothy to "take a little wine" for his stomach (I Timothy 5:23).

Movies were another hot topic, with general agreement that R-rated movies have no place in a Christian's entertainment repertoire. Then one might bring up "The Passion of the Christ," rated R because of extreme violence. I couldn't see taking a child to any movie that graphically showed the crucifixion. We have better, more effective ways to teach children of Jesus' death on the cross, which millions of parents and Sunday school teachers do quite skillfully and effectively on a regular basis.

We all agreed that there's no such thing as a 100% accurate movie about Jesus anyway--modern film makers never saw or spoke to Him in person. Just let the doctrines be scriptural and the tone be reverential, and facts that are presented in the gospels be accurately portrayed.

Speaking of doctrine, what about the "no pants and no makeup" rules for women, or head coverings required by some churches? Rather than argue over those details, are we being Christlike in our attitudes towards others? At age 7 or 8, our oldest son Sean attended a Christian school with a strict dress code that I found out about at the end of a school day that saw temperatures soar over 100 degrees.  "Mrs. Kruckenberg," the director said, "Your son cannot wear shorts to school." Okay, I thought, even long Bermuda shorts? We complied, but he didn't return the following semester, because legalistic comments were made about parents' dress as well, far beyond their purview. Seems that the actual sins of gossip and besmirching the character of others were being freely practiced, however!

More modern controversies that we covered included Harry Potter books.The same sixth grade Christian teacher friend of mine who taught C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe also read one of the Harry Potter books with his class. And one of my gals said she thought the movie of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be evil because the word "witch" was mentioned! (Then she was informed that C.S. Lewis was one of the last century's foremost Christian apologists). JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which I first read some 40 years ago, and which movies  I love, was also misunderstood by those who didn't realize Tolkien was a devout , scholarly Christian, and his books were an allegory of good vs. evil!

While I was teaching in a Christian school in 1980, a parent came to me in outrage because the Christian A Beka curriculum included a fairy tale! She wanted nothing but real life stories read to her children. So where does this judging of others' choices begin and end? I mentioned one thing that got everyone's attention: whenever a church splits over minor details and half the congregation leaves in a huff, you can bet that the entire city knows about it--the devil delights in discord among believers! Proverbs 6:19 says this is one of six things the LORD hates, and that are an abomination to Him:

One who sows discord among brethren.

I showed the cover of my book Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, because in these scriptures, Paul decimates the arguments of those who want to lay a heavy yoke of Jewish law keeping on all believers. In Galatians 5:1, Paul adjures us:

Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Do you want to have your son circumcised? Then do so--it's not a requirement to be saved, any more than is baptism. We are commanded to be baptized to show that we are saved. But since our denominational brothers see it differently, let's keep peace between us. If you can find scriptures that forbid eating meat, then follow your conscience. But I'll follow mine and eat meat, because Romans 14:17-19 says,

...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.  Therefore let us pursue the things that make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Let's focus on praying for and leading the unsaved to Christ, building up the Body of believers, loving and caring for one another, seeing each other through the tough times in this life while remembering   I John 4:17,

because as His is, so are we in this world.

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