In one area I am delighted our practice has not caught up with what we preach. It has to do with how we treat others in light of some of the things we have said the Bible teaches.
I am eager to search for truth in the Bible, but I am not all that eager to believe what every Tom, Dick, and Harry says the Bible teaches. For I have heard a lot of harebrained ideas come from the mouths of few Tom’s and Harry’s. Would a false teaching Harry be a Harrytic?
Back to my point. The Bible is a lot like those Rorschach ink blot tests. You show one ink blot to someone and he says it reminds him of a giant panda bear. You show the same ink blot to another person and she says it looks just like the shadow of cloud over a wheat field. One lad went to a shrink who showed him ink blot after ink blot. The kid kept saying they reminded him of pizza. Finally his psychiatrist showed him one more ink blot in desperation. Again the young man said, “It looks like a pepperoni pizza with green olives and mushrooms.” The doctor sighed and said out loud, “You must have a one track mind, son.” To this the lad replied, “Hey, I’m not the one with all the pictures of pizza!” Good point.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Practice. We didn’t practice what we preached all those years of discontent. We circled the ecclesiastical wagons and excluded not only the Indians, but one another as well. Some fellowships claiming to have a genuine interest in unity kept drawing lines of demarcation that excluded so many others that the denominations grew smaller and smaller with more and more litmus tests of fidelity to God. Let me give you a few examples to make myself clear. Some of us claimed to have the exact and proper name for the body of Christ on earth. All others had the wrong names. We asserted that our number and choice of how worship may be rightfully offered to God were straight from the Scriptures, while all the other fellowships were polluted in the proper rituals to include. Oh, yes. We interpreted Scripture correctly. Others did not. We sort of had a monopoly on truth.
How pathetically arrogant! And I guess here is where I sit down on my major point in this little rambling essay. I thank almighty God we behaved better than we wrote in our brotherhood journals and church bulletins. I am glad we acted properly toward our neighbors rather than ranting some of the diatribes fired in staccato fashion from the pulpits of our churches. That we did generally treat people better than we preached is telling. Very telling.
Our behavior, being better than our theology, meant we knew better than to take some of the outrageous stands some of us took. Stands like “you can’t fellowship someone who thinks differently than you on a doctrinal matter.” Or how about “fellowship means endorsement”? Then there is the, often spoken in hushed tones, “We are the only ones going to heaven. All others are either lost or on the verge.”
Be not many of you teachers. Judge not that you not be judged. Stop it. “God forgive us for not practicing what we preached. And thank you for giving us the wisdom to do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
“Let us stop passing judgment on one another” (Romans 14:13).
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