Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Smoke and Mirrors

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

Scripture calls Christians to live in unity (Philippians 2:1,2) and to love one another (John 13:34,35). Yet it is not uncommon to have disagreements within congregations that lead to splits or individuals leaving or just constant struggles. Now there are cases where the issues involved are real issues of doctrinal teaching or of violations of Christian moral standards. We need to deal with these. But the majority of the time we are not faced with such a clear-cut issues.

Based on my experience I would like to make a few observations about these types of situations. There is a method that Satan and his minions use which I will call "smoke and mirrors." While I have seen this at work a number of times, I need to limit my examples to protect privacy. When I was going to seminary, my wife and I had a series of problems. As we worked it through, we found that while we did have some disagreements of substance, much of the problem was really over the meaning of words. For example, I would say something and she would take it in a different way and we would end up disagreeing over it. Also, I once had to resign from the worship team over being "too charismatic." There may have been some real issues involved, but I suspect that much of the issue was over the connotations of the phrase "too charismatic." And the ironic thing is I doubt if anyone involved could have given a clear definition of what that meant.

How then do we avoid this type of thing? It helps to realize that such problems exist, that we are sinful people (1 John 1:8-10) in an imperfect world and it effects our judgment. It also helps to remember that other Christians are imperfect and won't always meet our expectations. And ultimately, we must not be concerned just with our own interests but consider the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-11). This is complicated by the fact we can sometimes confuse our interests with something that looks noble (my ministry, the fate of my church) and act on them under this disguise. Now I am not here trying to excuse clear-cut doctrinal or moral error. But I am suggesting that on the margins there is considerable room for misunderstanding.

It does not help that the present divided state of the church aids this. I can say, "If this church does not do what I want, I will look for another one." And churches can take the attitude, "If someone does not like it here, they can go somewhere else." Now sometimes there are difficult choices that have to be made. But I cannot help thinking things would be better if people had the commitment to at least try to work things out. And they would be less likely to be taken in by smoke and mirrors.

No comments:

Post a Comment