Sunday, August 31, 2014

Inquisitive questions with self serve answers

Quite often I'm asked specific questions about life.  Just as often, the person asking, after some gently leading conversation that includes scripture appropriate to the situation, answers the question for themselves.  

This is just exactly as it ought to be, since each of us is ultimately responsible for all our actions, thoughts, deeds and outcomes.

Including our salvation and what we do with it.

Philippians 2: 12-13:  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.


If you are at all inquisitive, this sentence will have arrested your attention, and you will find yourself asking the question:


Most of us have been taught by our church that we are to follow the lead, do as we're told, show up every time the doors to the building labeled "church" are open and conform to the same pattern as everyone else within those walls.

I have to respectfully disagree strenuously with that presumption.
  Have you ever stopped to consider that might NOT be what God has in mind when He created each of us so uniquely individual and DIFFERENT?

One of the favorites of the church is the "What Would Jesus Do?" If you want to know how to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, take a look at how Jesus taught.

He used parables.  These are stories, highlighting examples the people listening could relate to, that gave a general idea of how we should behave and interact and relate to God.

There was never a "one size fits all" rule or regulation in Jesus' teachings.

They were more of a "here's the guidelines, do what works best for you within them" sort of feel to the whole thing.  

Jesus never expected John to behave like Bartholomew.  He never insisted Matthew conform to the same actions as James.  Not once did He ever scold Peter to be more like Thaddeus. (though He did scold Peter for behaving like satan that one time!)  (For those who have read more than one Sunday Sermon, you'll notice I never capitalize the s, it's deliberate on my part, keeping him low, as he ought to be, in my esteem!)

Apostle Paul uses an example to set a guideline as well, in his writings to the fledgling first century church.  He points out that it is WHAT IS IN OUR HEARTS that determines if we are sinning, not the actual actions themselves.  If we eat meat that was offered to idols without regard for the idolatrous offering status, there is no sin involved.  If we eat with thankfulness toward God for whatever it is we are eating, there is no sin involved.

On the other hand, if we regard the idolatry in our hearts, and eat that same meat, to us it is sin!  (ICorinthians 8:4)

From this it is clear that the eating of meat isn't sin.  The day which we choose to set aside as our "sabbath" or day of rest isn't at issue.  Which day we gather to glorify God isn't "right" or "wrong". (Colossians 2:16)

This is all very good, since each of us has different needs, different temperaments and different personalities, as well as different gifts and talents and abilities.

The Lord made us that way for His purposes, and a reading of ICorinthians 12 makes it clear He intends each of us to fulfill different purposes in order to fulfill His purposes.

There are things from which we should NEVER deviate in terms of faith and practice.  Those are also very clear in scripture.  Found in the letters of the New Testament, including Romans 15:4 that exhorts us to know and understand the Old Testament.  (Knowing and understanding being different from doing - we are under GRACE, not the law!)

One of the main things we try to do with our Sunday Sermons is highlight areas of scripture and understanding that can be useful to help others learn and grow, while leaving room for them to work out their own salvation.

If you choose to worship corporately on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday each week - that is a wonderful thing~!  You are fulfilling the exhortation not to forsake the assembling together with LIKEMINDED believers.

If you choose to sing whatever songs, or not to sing at all, YEA - that you've assembled to glorify God!

It is about repenting of sin and surrendering to the Lord - trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide you.  

It isn't about which day, what manner or the labels we've given ourselves.

Romans 15: 6-7 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

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