Thursday evening of this week an impromptu meeting was announced for our usual bimonthly “Bible Study group.” I don’t like to call it a Bible Study group because those words and that title causes the listener or reader to conjure up in their mind an erroneous understanding as to what our meetings actually are.
Jim Filer did a good job of attempting to explain the venue so that others get a more accurate understanding of reality. He will be glad to see that I finally had reason to quote something he wrote. It was the comment that follows here which is most responsible for my realization that Jim and I are in agreement concerning a particular matter.
Quoting Jim now: “While I wouldn't tell you that the preacher's sermon doesn't "feed" me, during the service all I'm doing is "ingesting" it. "DI-gesting" it is another matter and that comes down to how well it holds true in my life” End of quote.
I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to explain to someone how I use scripture, applying it to my daily life. Every denomination has their own tenets and doctrinal beliefs. It is fully expected by those in authority, if any person JOINS their church and fellowships with the rest of the congregation, they MUST be in agreement with said doctrinal issues. If that is not the way it is with an individual and the fact is made known to others, much questioning and sometimes, much judgment is destined to follow aimed directly at said individual who does not agree and fall into line.
I made a comment during the meeting we had two Thursdays ago that sitting in our congregation are many people who have their own set of doctrinal beliefs and those beliefs differ from the basic doctrinal beliefs of the church in general. The differences may be only on one doctrine or it may include several.
I’ve discovered recently that there is much confusion concerning some very basic beliefs in our church. You’ve got to pin people down and ask some very specific, pointed questions if you want to find the truth. For instance, try to get someone to explain their personal understanding of what happens to you when you die. I did exactly that with my own daughter and Sue recently. I think you would be surprised to find out what is in some people’s heads. You will never know if you don’t ask. That’s just the way it is with individual Christians. I believe the reason they are confused is because they haven’t taken the time to sit down and search out matters for themselves in the scriptures and tried to find a scriptural basis for their own understanding concerning it.
I do not want to address any one specific doctrinal belief in this writing. My desire here is to point out that there is not total agreement when it comes to doctrinal beliefs within any church in general and how it affects the effectiveness of the church with regards to the rest of the world at large.
Jim also mentioned something he had read concerning a book someone wrote titled “When bad Christians happen to good people.” That book title in itself should set any serious Christian to thinking about themselves and how they are viewed by those they come in contact with every day.
Every Christian needs to take a close look at what is being preached from the pulpit and consider whether or not they can fully agree with it or not based upon scripture. Sad to say, they probably won’t take the time or expend the effort needed to do it. It’s easier to just sit and listen and take comfort in what is being preached. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Do those words sound familiar to anyone? They are comforting words for someone who has just lost a loved one but do we trouble ourselves to dig around in the scriptures and find out what they really mean? Well, I’m not going to do your duty for you. If you want to know the truth, put in the effort and find out or just go on believing what you probably already believe concerning it. It’s much easier that way.
Here’s a few more things for you to think about in your spare time. It will only apply to you if such things are important in your life.
Tithing: What is it? Does it apply to the Church today? If you are one who tithes faithfully a full ten percent of your income to the church and still give offerings and other contributions; how’s that working for you? Did Jesus teach tithing to his disciples and us?
If a person who dies as a Christian goes to be with the Lord in Heaven; what does this scripture mean?
Heb:9:27: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. What is the judgment seat of Christ? What is the great white throne judgment? How does either of them apply to a Christian?
Who is the Holy Ghost? Is the Holy Ghost an indwelling spirit or is He one who stands by us outside of our bodies as the scriptures describe Him. The Comforter, the Paraclete (0ne who stands along side of another.) What is the baptism of the Holy Ghost? How does that work in our lives?
I hope you don’t think that all of these matters have been worked out to everyone’s satisfaction in the church today. I don’t believe they have and I have only scratched the surface of the abundance of matters that need to be addressed and clarified within the church.
Do we really need groups of believers getting together regularly and trying to sort some of these matters out so that some of the confusion is done away with? I think we do.
Scriptures and doctrines are great things but it’s where they and one’s life come together and interact that truth and reality are found. Faith is wonderful and necessary for all Christians but I can’t help but wonder how we would make it through to the end without our everyday practical experiences shared with others to bolster that faith.
I don’t mind driving a few miles every other Thursday to sit around a picnic table in the cool of the evening and share with other Christians what God is doing in my own life and listen to them testify about what He is doing in their own. I like to know that it’s not all so cut and dried in their own mind too. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a bit confused about certain doctrines being taught in our church and believed by so many as presented to them from the pulpit. I like to explain my own point of view, run it up the flag pole and see if anyone else salutes.
My own daughter said to me the other night after a couple of hours of discussing scriptures and our beliefs; “You know Dad, if I explained to some of my friends at church some of the thoughts you have shared with us today, they would say I was nuts. BUT, when I sit and listen to how you see it and the scriptures you base your thinking upon, it doesn’t sound crazy at all to me.” We have come so far and yet there are many miles to go. I’m loving the journey.