I have read some interesting things regarding not only what is happening in our world today (much of it sad), but also some things that are happening in the church worldwide.
I want to begin by saying God is doing some wonderful things. Amid all that is happening in our country, the fear, the frustrations, anxieties and sadly, the out-of-control violence in some parts of our land, God is bringing people into His kingdom.
The Lord is using this opportunity to expand His kingdom as people are turning to Christ and Christians are being challenged and changed because of God’s work in their lives. That is worth praising Him about.
I want to encourage us to remember that we are in a spiritual battle, but we have the victory for as 1 John 4:4 reminds us, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
These have been sobering times as well as I hear pastors talk, believers share, and read information about how, in some cases, the church in general, being under siege, is working its way through all the “stuff” happening around us. Trying to figure out the next steps in this current day is challenging to say the least.
We must also, as we do things, be on guard as Christians to watch our hearts and attitudes. It can be discouraging as we see what is happening, even within the body of Christ worldwide. It reminds me of the need to always check my heart, to pursue Christ always.
We need to be careful to not steamroll others when we feel overwhelmed by circumstances and situations. People pay the price when we get our attitude a little offline. I know this from personal experience and no doubt you do too. All of this reminds me to be careful in how I react and interact with others. Bear with me as I share what I mean.
Jesus, in one of His parables contrasting the self-righteous religious folks of His day with those who were genuinely seeking after God, had this to say in Luke 18:9, “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:”
Two things jump out at me from this verse. First, there were those in Christ’s day, and in our world as well, Christians, non-believers, and some who are simply religious, who tend to be self-righteous. Even people who do not have a relationship with Christ, based on how they treat others, can come across as morally superior to someone who differs from them on issues and beliefs. Self-righteousness is not just a problem for Christians.
Second, Jesus says that there were those who looked on others with “contempt.” The word means “to despise” someone, or to treat them as if they did not matter, “of no account” as the Greek scholar Joseph Thayer notes.
This attitude can come across in various ways. In the story Jesus told here in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus zeroed in on the religious elite of His day who looked down on others who did not “fit” the thinking of the Pharisees. And the religious crew had no problem judging others because there were differences of opinions on how to be right with God, how to be spiritual, etc., etc.
Today, we live in a culture that if by chance you disagree with someone’s view, before you know it, people come from everywhere to shame you, to show you how ignorant and wrong you are about whatever the topic might be.
There are those who will try to destroy you because your view on something is different. Specifically, Christians and those who may be more conservative in their values, when it comes to our society, come under withering verbal assault.
A different view, a word wrongly spoken, brings verbal fire down from every side. Anyone who has watched the world unfold around knows this to be true.
Some churches are sadly experiencing this within their own midst, though not with the intensity we see in the culture. From people picking sides regarding the coronavirus, to the issue of racism, to what churches should do when the government shuts them down for whatever the reason (in some states it is because of COVID-19), Christians can be quite antagonistic towards others who differ from their view on (fill in the blank).
I keep coming back to Philippians 2 where we are told to put others above ourselves, to have the mind of Christ, that of being a servant. Even in that, though, people react differently. For example, we accuse someone of not thinking of others if they do not do what we are doing or think others should be doing.
If not careful, this leads to what I call an attitude of “spiritual superiority” over someone who may see things from a different angle than us in their attempts to live out Philippians 2.
As churches are navigating the issues facing our world today, we see division happening within God’s body. If you do not speak out enough on something, or view things differently than someone else, in some cases, fellow Christians let you know their thoughts on what you are or should be doing.
Showing grace toward one another seems to be an afterthought in some cases from things I have read. The one thing I can say is how appreciative of the folks of Oakridge Community Church I am as their pastor. Their treatment of one another and others, from what I have seen, has been a picture of grace during these challenging times.
People may have different views on issues in our world today, and may share about those with others, but the goal is glorifying God in how we handle things, no matter the discussion. We stand for objective Biblical truth but do so with words and attitudes that are honoring to the Lord (Col. 4:6). When it comes to differences of opinions on certain issues, we need to handle things the same way.
Let us not be like the Pharisee in Jesus’ story. Let us move forward in a way that brings glory to God. God bless and take care.