What I read today;
Romans 7; Matthew 7; Isaiah 7; Job 7; Joshua 7; Genesis 7
Human beings love to play judge, jury, and executioner. We live for it. The Christian community is no different. In fact, some professing Christians have turned it into an art form.
Several years ago, a Pastor, who I’d gotten to know from my work in youth ministry and on a church council, was suspended from the ministry. He was suspended because he disagreed with a specific church teaching. The denomination I attended had one particular teaching called the Doctrine of Fellowship. It specifically said you could not pray, attend church, or in particular, celebrate holy communion with a member outside of the denomination.
To be honest with you, I was completely unaware of this Church teaching at the time of the event.
This particular minister had been a big help to me during a difficult time, so I stopped in to see him one day. He told me what had happened. What I heard shocked me. He had stopped by the home of a dying member. He had planned to give her communion, knowing that she did not have long to live. Her son, a member of another church body, was there. The woman asked him if he would serve the two of them communion so she could celebrate the Lord’s Supper with her son one last time.
The Pastor said yes and gave them both communion.
Soon after the woman died, and while at the wake, the woman’s son came up to the Pastor and thanked him for what he had done. The conversation was overheard by a member of the church who reported it to the co-pastor.
Shortly after that, all hell broke loose.
In the end, the Pastor was forced out of the denomination. He thought his career was over. However, God wasn’t done with this man yet. God led several members out of the sect and today the church they founded still stands with nearly 200 members.
Jesus faced the doctrinal police every day. They put doctrinal purity above human compassion. They put the letter of the law over the spirit of the law every time. Too often, our church bodies are nothing more than legal societies worrying about how we practice everything from communion to baptism. It was the same in Jesus day.
When Jesus says to “Beware of False Prophets,” he’s warning against those who want to use scripture as a hammer. Jesus is warning that if our religion doesn’t love God first and Love people second, something is wrong with our faith. Jesus is saying simply, that the Church should be a place for those seeking God to find grace and mercy not a set of rules.
Our job is not to play the judge. Our job is to love God and love people. It is the holy spirits job to use our love to change lives.