The other day, taking advantage of a perceived opportunity to challenge the intellect, my grandmother asked my daughter, “How many oceans are there?”
Without skipping a beat, my daughter answered, “One.”
I told my grandma, “Well, in a general sense, she’s exactly right.”
There are times in religion when people err because we make specific principles act more like general principles, and we make general principles act more like specific principles … then we seek the answer that suits us best.
For example, take Paul’s correction concerning the church’s relationship with people living ungodly lives:
Many people enjoy a dislike of “religion.” Hence the popularity of the spiritual but not religious identity … which is often the slogan (of sorts) for the pro-Jesus, anti-church mentality.
Religion is equal to rules. Rules are equal to standards. Standards are equal to responsibilities. Responsibilities are equal to religion. Hence the exodus of many “churches” and their relationship to any perceived hint of hardline religion.
Somehow people have managed to convince themselves that a relationship with Jesus is not based on any sort of hard-line – because Jesus was anti-religion, right?
Granted, Jesus took extreme issue with the religious leaders of his earthly day (a religion, mind you, that ultimately revolved around and pointed to Jesus – Luke 24:22, Galatians 3:24), but Jesus’ issue wasn’t with religion in general – his problem was with the way they practiced their religion by blurring hard-lines created by God! (Matthew 15:1-9, Matthew 23, Mark 3:1-5, Luke 14:6, John 5:10-16) And such an issue was nothing new (Amos 8, Jeremiah 23).
So before you think being against hardline religion makes you pro-Jesus (or vice-versa), keep these teachings in mind: Continue reading
Share a word of wisdom to a new convert about the balance between the need for patience with oneself in the process of growth and the need to put away sin, wrong attitudes, and bad habits; to repent, in short.
John, the first book I had planned to write, back in the 80s, was on balance. That book never made it out of the gate, but the idea was good. (I’m always planning something, but things don’t always get past that stage.) Ira North’s book on the subject, for God’s servants working with congregations, was a popular book in its time.
Two extremes often exist in an area or subject, which should be avoided, as your post indicated. The irony is that, like a pendulum, people will sometimes swing wildly from one extreme to the other. Martin Luther serves as a good example, going from works-based righteousness in the Catholic system, to a faith-only position in reaction, which has become the definition of evangelicals. And we’ve seen some of our people go from rigid positions about everything to accepting just about any idea that comes down the pike.
So our prayer ought to be that we can keep it between the ditches. (Who said something similar to that, Marshall Keeble?)
Too far to the right, and we bind where God has not bound.
Too far to the left, and we loose where God HAS bound.
Balance on the mountaintop of Bible authority (and common sense). (With thanks to Roy Deaver.)