Christians confront and challenge each other, denigrating those who don’t believe the same as they so. “I’m going to heaven and you’re not!” or “I’ve got the right beliefs and you don’t.” So many denominations, so many definitions of faith. And who is right? And who is wrong? To me these quarrels are ego-driven, taunts straight out of the sandbox. How are we to become the one church of Jesus Christ if we’re so attached to our church and its beliefs? And who is the authority on this question? Your pastor? Your denomination? Jesus Christ? To whom do you turn to answer questions such as these?
The fighting among Christians turns off a lot of people. The church as a whole is fast losing membership and authority in our world. So we each need to answer these questions honestly for our own spiritual health:
Who is the true authority in my life? ,
To whom or what have I pledged myself? Our country’s ways? Our church? Christ himself?
To whom do I listen? My culture, my church or to Christ himself?
If we let Christ speak to us through what we read in the Bible, through the events in our lives, through what happens to us, through our own prayers to be open to His wisdom and not our own, and most of all through His “still, small voice,” we will come to know where He stands on all these questions. Especially the questions about what I am to do in this life and how to do it in His name. The church is meant to facilitate these interactions with Christ, but not to come in between a person and God. The church should always be pointing us all towards a deeper and deeper relationship with God.
It all comes down to the relationship with Jesus Christ! And His teachings! If we only heeded the Sermon on the Mount, we would be far ahead of where Christians are today. Addressing what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount leads us to a very humble view of ourselves:
- If we could look at the poor, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness or falsely accused, as blessed and loved by God, we’d be on our way to following Jesus. [Matthew 5:3-11]
- If we were salt and light for the world…[Matthew 5:13-16]
- If we were all about fulfilling the Law and Prophets[Matthew 5:17-20]
- If we no longer got angry at a brother or sister, much less murdered them…[Matthew 5:21-26]
- If we no longer looked lustfully at the other sex or committed adultery…[Matthew 5:27-32]
- If we fulfilled the oaths that we made to the Lord…[Matthew 5:33-37]
- If we did not resist an evil person, turned the other cheek when we’re slapped, handed over our coat and shirt, or went the extra mile, gave to the one who asked you, and did not turn away from someone who wants to borrow from us…[Matthew 5:38-42]
- If we loved our enemies and prayed for those who persecuted us…[Matthew 5:43-48]
- If we gave to the needy without calling attention to ourselves…[Matthew 6:1-4
- If we prayed in our own room, only seen by God, did not babble on because God already knows what we need, prayed the Lord’s Prayer, and forgave other people when they sin against us…[Matthew 6:5-15]
- If we fast, put oil on our heads and wash our faces, so others won’t know of our fast…[Matthew 6:16-18]
- If we don’t store up treasures on earth; store treasures in heaven, where our heart is…[Matthew 6:19-22]
- If we don’t serve two masters…[Matthew 6:23-24]
- If we don’t worry, leave it up to God what our life, food, drink, body, clothing…[Matthew 6:25-34]
- If we didn’t judge others, ignoring the plank in our own eye…[Matthew 7:1-6]
- If we asked, sought and knocked, we would be taken care of…[Matthew 7:7-12
- If we entered through the narrow gate…[Matthew 7:13-14]
- If we refused to listen to false prophets…[Matthew 7:15-20]
- If we did the will of God…[Matthew 7:21-23]
- If we were wise like the man who built his house on rock…[Matthew 7:24-29]
It is not an easy task for us to follow Jesus, but it’s pretty clear that it is a lot less about us and a whole lot more about what we are to do for God and for others because of our love of God. It’s about caring for ourselves so that we can receive God’s love and share it with the human race. It’s about loving God so much that we only serve Him. It’s all about love. And it is impossible for us to do it without God’s help.
And that takes us right back to the fighting among Christians. Fighting doesn’t belong in the church, the one church of Jesus Christ. We are to love each other, forgive everyone, cling to our Lord and Master, be in community with other believers whether we agree on everything or not. We are to see each human being as made in the image of God. There are many parts to the body of Christ, just like there are many different parts to our own bodies which work in harmony with each other even as they have different functions and design. There are many ways to serve Christ, according to the gifts and talents we each have and what we are called to do by the Lord.
Questions to ponder over the week: Whom/what do I serve with my beliefs, with my daily decisions, in my family, in my leisure time? Who or what is primary in my life: myself, our culture or God? Do I really understand what Jesus came to show us about how we are to live?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who serve Him only. May we give up our own egos and our culture for His sake. May we be vessels of love that we pour out wherever we go.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 1.20.20s is entitled, “What are we enslaved to?”
 1 Kings 19:12
 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6
 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
 1 Corinthians 12:4-11