Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beware of Shortcuts

Scripture pictures growth in Christ as a process that covers all of life (Philippians 3:12-14; 1 Timothy 4:7,8; Ephesians 2:10). This is a result of God working in the life of every believer (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). But it is easy to want some kind of shortcut to produce instant spirituality. And many of the divisions between Christians, either formal or informal, result from these shortcuts. Frequently there is the idea that someone cannot really live for God or serve Him if they do not adopt our shortcut. There may even arise the idea they are not really saved if they do not adopt it. Now we are saved by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9), who died to pay the price for our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Now the Bible makes it clear that not everyone who professes to be a Christian, and certainly not everyone who calls themselves a Christian in some broad sense, is necessarily saved (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:19; 2 Corinthians 13:5). But it is dubious to use this truth just to promote our favorite shortcut.

There are two problems with shortcuts. They can produce pride in those who believe they have successfully used the shortcut. It also encourages them to look down on others who do not accept their shortcut. This results in the tendency to division and trust in our own wisdom found in the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:18-23). There will always be disagreements among Christians as to what the Bible teaches. But making those opinions the basis for God's working in the life of the individual makes reconciliation and working together more difficult. This attitude also encourages complacency. If my shortcut means I have arrived spiritually, I have less motivation to press on to grow in Christ.

Or these shortcuts can produce discouragement for those who have tried them and found them not to work as advertised. This can result in guilt and nagging questions. We can ask things like, Did I do it right? Am I really a Christian if it does not work for me? Do I not have enough faith? and similar things. If this shortcut is made a matter of prescribed teaching in the church we are in, it means we have to leave that church if we reject it. This can result in significant inner turmoil and may result in desperate action of some sort. All the while we have had something foisted on us that will not work. We need to stick to the straight way and avoid the shortcuts.

No comments:

Post a Comment