I know people, lots of people. Over the years God has graciously given me a few “sticks closer than a brother” type friends, a larger group I consider good, dependable, faithful friends, “iron sharpens iron” type friends, plus an even bigger number of acquaintances.
And it’s interesting that the people I know, or follow on social media, are all over the map in what they believe!
Conspiracy theorists, right-wingers? Check.
Leftist leaning, supporting causes with a fatal flaw in their basic theology? Check.
I am alarmed at both extremes, not only some of what seems to me in light of the Bible’s teaching to be aberrant, unscriptural beliefs but equally distressing is the harsh, biting, unchristian rhetoric I see from both extremes.
Both drive people from the purity and simplicity of the gospel, and in essence bring in “another gospel.”
We can see that play out in two similar yet competing ways:
Syncretism: mixing truth with error.
Substitution: exchanging truth for error.
A Few Lessons
1. Jesus is our Supreme Treasure, the way, truth, and life.
Only through Him, as we repent and believe the gospel will anyone go to Heaven. And all who come to the Father through Jesus will be in Heaven, in spite of many differences of opinion over lesser things.
2. Perfection and perfect knowledge will never be achieved in this life.
We must acknowledge our humanity and the possibility of being wrong and carefully examine facts, sift evidence, think critically, and pray for wisdom, all with deep humility. An illustration of this is when medical science from 200-300 years ago held that “bleeding” sick people to get rid of bad blood would bring a cure. That is probably what cost George Washington his life in 1799 at age 67 when he probably had pneumonia or bronchitis. Back then, there were no antibiotics.
3. Christ prayed that we would all be one (John 17:21, 23).
That has to mean something profound. We are challenged to maintain the unity of the Spirit. However, unity does not mean uniformity. We can differ, and still be one, “keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.”
4. Jesus loves the church, and so must we.
The universal church and the local church. It is simply unacceptable to say “I love Jesus, but I don’t love the church,” whether it’s a matter of rejecting the organized church, or simply being sadly misinformed about its place in God’s economy. Our Lord died for the church. She is His eternal bride. Local fellowships of believers, warts, and all, are his plan. Almost every church Paul wrote to had flaws, and yet God used them to build His kingdom and still does.
5. Defending truth while always showing love and humility is God’s way (I Peter 3:15).
There’s no place for building straw men that are easy to tear down, creating false dilemmas, twisting facts, or denigrating our opponent. These are unworthy of a follower of Jesus.
6. We shouldn’t be gullible; all too quickly swallowing everything we see or hear.
Compare and scrutinize everything with the bedrock truth of Scripture. Jesus urges us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” In an age of Artificial Intelligence and deliberate deception, we desperately need discernment!
7. Ultimately “our citizenship is in Heaven.”
We are first and foremost Christians, Christ followers. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be good citizens, and even patriotic, but it does mean that our relationship to Christ and our loyalty to Kingdom values takes precedence over everything else.
And so…to quote Francis Schaeffer and Ezekiel 33 “How should we then live?” Wisely, discerningly, lovingly, compassionately, confrontationally (in the right way), and humbly. It’s God’s business to change people’s hearts. It’s our business to love them and teach them God’s way. I know people; but, oh, that they (and I) might know my Savior and know Him better.