Thursday, March 02, 2006

What really matters?

As we go further into our walk in Christianity, we start realizing the extent of our differences in beliefs; the number of denominations and differences between them; the different faiths that have sprung up in the name of Christianity--for example Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

It almost seems as if now, with the movement of some Christians out of the walls of a church and back into NT house churches, that the disparities in beliefs are growing swiftly. And, to an extent, they probably are. But if you look at the ability to communicate in the 21st century, you can see that perhaps it's not a growing number of differences, but our ability to see those differences on a global scale. If you delve into early Christian history, you'll see that there were just as many differences in the belief systems between orthodoxy and gnosticism...and many, many branches of each of those. The result is an endless variety of Christianity and it turns out that it's just a matter of history that we are where we are. For all we know, we could have all been card-carrying Gnostics, had history taken a different turn.

The difference that I really like to see is the one where most of you don't CARE that there are differences; you just want to walk with Jesus. But I probably see that because I have a tendency to link up with a supportive band of disciples, and run like the devil's after me from the legalists.
That said, we will still butt heads with those afore mentioned legalists every where we go. We could get legalistic with the legalists if we choose, because there are so many things that we as Christians do even now that could be considered man-made, pagan or occultism...birthday cakes, wedding rings, Easter eggs and bunnies, Christmas trees, Santa, the Pledge of Allegiance...the list is endless. Even the concepts of Lent and Ash Wednesday are man-made practices. All of these things exist either as accepted or are refused in some level of Christianity today.

Where do we stop with the head-spinning stuff? If I have Christian friends that believe that there is life on other planets (more Christians believe in this concept than atheists) or that the precise arrangement of the stars on your day of birth can be a clue to your personality (the Magi were astrologers) or that all good people are going to heaven whether they believe fully in Jesus; are these people pagan? Are they occultists? Are they "not as good Christians" as those who believe the contrary? There are biblical concepts that can be interpreted as "out of body experiences" or even psychic or astrological experiences. The variety that I've come across with different people is amazing. No two people will agree totally, I believe.

So, where does all the nonsense leave us? For me, it's just working at trying to see others through Jesus' eyes. He certainly didn't surround himself with what the society then would have considered to be the "cream of the crop." His day was built around interruptions from all walks of people.

The woman in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the one with the issue of bleeding. She knew that she just needed to touch His garment. Jesus was walking in a crushing crowd, and yet He knew that she had touched Him. Even being out in public with such an issue for this woman was a dangerous and forbidden thing. Yet, she touches Him...and He knows that Power has gone from Him. Not depleting Him...just going out to someone who has a huge faith in Him. He tells her that her faith has rescued and preserved her: sozo means so much more than just healed.
Rescued and preserved.

We know nothing else of this woman, but we do know this: of all the things she may have done in the past, all the things she may have done later, that she had all the faith in the world that if she just FOLLOWED Him; touched Him; defying all the legalistic nonsense that surrounded her at that time; that all would be well; that she would be rescued and preserved. Nothing else mattered. What else could?


Sophia Sadek said...

Thanks for the blog. It was very inspirational.

I sympathize with your distaste for legalism. Whenever things get legalistic, it's usually because there's money or territory at stake.

Karen said...

Thank you, Sophia, for stopping by! I think you're right about legalism.

bjk said...

Thanks for a great post.....

For me, it's just working at trying to see others through Jesus' eyes. He certainly didn't surround himself with what the society then would have considered to be the "cream of the crop." His day was built around interruptions from all walks of people.

Simon said...

Wow! Very powerful and touching post. Thanks Karen.

Patchouli said...

iLet's all be that woman- desperately in need, knowing from where our healing comes, and reaching out in faith. Let us receive All that He has for us!

Thank you!

Bar Bar A said...

Karen, whoa - this was powerful. I read it twice! I agree with you and I like the comments that were left here too.
This kind of goes along with a post I have been working on, I hope you don't mind if I link you when I get it done.


Karen said...

Hey, thanks for the encouragement, all.
Sure, on!

Drakelis said...

When u get down to it, it is LEGALISM, not a particular faith that causes all the problems people associate with faiths. Fo' example, Inquisition = Legalism.

Bruce said...

I agree that the legalism in our christianity today is every bit as strong as it was in Jesus' day, but we walk a real fine line. What do we throw out in our beliefs because we might be considered legalists? It seems that today we are allowing all kinds of beliefs because we want to be accepted or acceptable, and we have some new kind of freedom. I would probably be considered in some circles more on the liberal side, but I have trouble with things like universalism. I really enjoyed your post. You need to do more like this one.


Karen said...

Well, Bruce, that's the problem. Thanks for the encouragement...I agree with you; All we can do, though, is try to see others as Jesus sees them, and pursue Him with all our might.

Shoot...folks have made a case for slavery, subjugation of women, etc., because of the Bible. It boils down to "where's the love in what I'm doing?"
We need to shine, but not cast shadows.
Phillipians 2:14-15

Larry said...

God promises to guide us, to teach us, to help us. Part of that process is learning to accept his help... and the necessary first step in that is learning how needy I am. This has been very hard for me to learn, for many reasons.

Some of the reasons are good. It's better not to have needs when there's no one around to help meet them. Some of the reasons are bad: pride in the fact that I make my own decisions.

Legalism is easier than learning to live in a state that looks from the outside like helplessness. Legalism is easier than learning to listen to the Holy Spirit's true voice. Legalism is certainly easier to teach, and it gives me an excuse to believe I'm better than the ones who can't come up to my standard in the particular subset of deadly rules I happen to be good at.

Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life." It's quite simple. Beyond that gate he gives us the Holy Spirit, who starts teaching us to depend upon him. Churches subvert this process, probably unconsciously, in much of their teaching. They want to be helpful! They want quick results. What they get is rules that make a cage the Holy Spirit can't get through.

Kansas Bob said...

Thanks Karen! You made the day for a one time legalist.

Danny Haszard said...

Up close and personal Jehovah's Witnesses can be wolves in sheep's clothing.

Think about this-When the devil comes knocking on your door he may not have the 'dark goth look'.They could be smartly dressed and wielding the Christian Bible.

I have Jehovah's Witnesses family in the usa who practice the Watchtower JW enforced ritual shunning that i have not seen or heard from in 15 years.

The central CORE dogma of the Watchtower is Jesus second coming (invisibly) in 1914 and is a lie.Jehovah's Witnesses are a spin-off of the man made Millerite movement of 1840.

A destructive cult of false teachings, that frequently result in spiritual and psychological abuse, as well as needless deaths (bogus blood transfusion ban).

Yes,you can 'check out anytime you want but you can never leave',because they can and will hold your family hostage.

The world has the Internet now,and there are tens of thousands of pages up from disgruntled ex-Jehovah's Witnesses like myself who have been abused by the Watchtower cult.

Jehovah's Witnesses are often a mouth that prays a hand that kills.The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.
Danny Haszard former Jehovah's Witness X 33 years and 3rd generation

Karen said...

Danny, I'm so sorry for your experience in the Jehovah's Witness.
Unfortunately, this kind of abuse isn't limited to just that faction of religiosity. There are all kinds of evil deeds being done in the name of Christianity.
That's a whole 'nother post.
Suffice to say that we will stand with you in prayer against such abuses and harm.
God has turned your suffering to good through the work that you are doing. We know who the Victor is in this battle.

Sophia Sadek said...

One of the most misinterpreted lines in the Gospels is the comment about being the truth and the way. That was a time and place remark. Yes, Jesus was the truth and the way for those people at that time.

To take that out of context is to misunderstand the nature of divine Logos. Today, there are other people who do not resemble Jesus, yet they have incarnated the divine Logos. To those who misinterpret Johh, such people are blaspheming heretics.

The key to determining who is a wolf and who is not hinges on who supports theft, murder, and destruction. Those who rationalize such activity in the name of Christ have obviously been led out of the sheepfold by the wrong gate.