Ah, I’ve got your attention now haven’t I. Well don’t worry all will be made clear soon. While the family and I were holidaying over in Sydney I saw two Churches (in fact I saw so many Churches, I can’t believe how many churches there are in Sydney, Sydney what’s going on?), now these two churches were pretty much opposite each other. The first called (insert suburb here) (insert denomination here) Church was just about 200m up the road from the other church called (insert same suburb here) Bible (insert same denomination here) Church. Same suburb, same denomination, only difference was the presence of “Bible” in the title of the second one.
Now at a guess the “Bible”less Church must have been the original Church, something must have gone down, the Church split and another Church sprung up as a result, only difference-the new one had the Bible.
What’s with that? See the thing with including “Bible” in your Church name, or with putting on your Church website, “That we are a Bible believing Church”, suggests that all other Churches aren’t Bible believing and that ultimately there is something unchristian and/or heretical about them, which just isn’t true.
To put “Bible” in your title is just not helpful, because all it says is that “we read the Bible in a particular way and you read it in another way, but our way is right.” Christianity is a wide river and to say that there is only one way is to limit how God speaks and can be understood through the scriptures.
Secondly it doesn’t look good does it. It’s like two petrol stations right next to each other, I’ll go to the one with the cheapest fuel thanks. Competition is a good thing when it comes to petrol, as for Churches, and churches in the same denomination, it’s not all that helpful, kinda sends the wrong message doesn’t it.
We want to back the winner don’t we, we want to be in the right. Unfortunately we’re all to quick to label those who we believe are in the wrong as lesser Christians, as non christians, as heretics. I was challenged about this recently.
There’s a particular pastor/preacher in the States that I’m not really a fan of. Firstly he disagrees with my guy (maybe it’s because he’s british) on a few relative theological points, and secondly I disagree with him on a few theological points.
Unfortunately/fortunately God called me up on it (No fun). I was reading through the book of Galatians trying to solidify my position on an issue that I felt in the right on and low and behold I came across this passage,
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21 NIV)
Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, orgies. Amen Paul, I agree, people who do these things aren’t welcome in the Kingdom of God… huh, oh it continues… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, FACTIONS? Come on Paul factions? I’m trying to defend the faith from these heretics. It’s a big call Mr Paul.
But there it was. Gee it cut straight to the heart. Here I was pointing out one persons faults, and yet here I was with the shoe on the other foot, drawing up party lines. I was just as guilty if not more. I was a faction maker.
Jesus, help me not to fall into the temptation of wanting to label people who don’t agree with me as being lesser or in the wrong. Help me to display more and more spiritual fruit by your grace and through your Spirit. Amen
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:22–26 NIV11-GK)