We make judgements. Evaluations. We assign value to things, situations, and people based on our own conceived set of qualifications of merit. We are so qualified, aren’t we? I simply hate it when I pronounce a judgment only to find out more details later that prove me wrong about a situation or, especially, a person. I am so quick to make judgments of others. I hold others to an incredible standard that I am not willing to hold myself to, and in doing so I make myself look oh so good. And what’s worse? I claim to love Jesus, and still I finger point, look down my nose, and refuse to offer the very mercy and grace that was so freely offered to me. I am a rascal of the worst kind.
As followers of Christ, we throw stones at other believers. We argue over points of theology as if we are somehow better equipped or more learned. Little churches hurl rocks at big ones, big ones belittle little ones. Fundamentalist believers criticize evangelicals, and mainline Christians mock Charismatics.
When Matthew and I were working our way through seminary, (and yes, I say “we” because if you have ever been married to someone in seminary, you know it takes you both to get it done) we sorted our minds through every point of theology we could. We had to settle our hearts on each topic- or we thought we did- to establish our biblical theology. Now I’m not talking about the easy ones that everyone can agree upon… like the inherency of scripture or the virgin birth. For the most part, except for the way-out kooks (I’m joking), we can all agree on those. I’m talking about the finer points. I mean issues like predestination, infant baptism, sign gifts, end times, and who wrote the book of Hebrews? (You thought it was Paul? Just kidding, so do I.) We spent gobs of time deciding where we came down on those issues and why. I mean, we were going into ministry. We needed to know it all. It had to be settled once. and. for. all…
And it was, until it wasn’t. We continued to grow our faith and knowledge, even after seminary. Through the years, we met and sat under different teaching and theological perspectives. And what we once believed so staunchly, changed here and there with time. There was a little tweak here, and little tweak there. Here a tweak, there a tweak… everywhere… oh you get it. (a tweak, tweak)
Here’s a bit of truth. For all those biblical issues where there are debate, there are learned theologians who come down on either side of those issues. Each one seeking, earnestly, the truth. Seeking it more often and with much more zeal than I do, most of the time. People who know the original languages, look at ancient texts, and study supporting literature. Each one sincere. Some sincerely wrong, but should I throw rocks at them (or those who agree with them) for their very best guesses?
I don’t think so. Because here’s what I know. I don’t know everything. I mean I think I know a lot, but what I don’t know far outweighs what I do. And what I thought I knew for sure even a few years ago, I have to wonder about sometimes because some Christian people I truly love and admire, disagree with me on some points of theology. Am I right or are they right? And does it really matter? I mean, does it? I believe to some degree it does, especially if we are in a position to teach others. We need to do our utmost best to get it right if others are following us. But no matter our stance on most things biblical, I think we can agree that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He appointed us, his church, as ambassadors of the gospel, to love people and reflect His glory.
Maybe we should just put those stones down and get busy doing that, and leave all the rock throwing to the politicians.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11