Confessions of a Born Again, Independent, Fundamentalist, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, Charismatic, Full-gospel, Assembly of God, Baptist
The awesome thing about blogging is the ability to follow the day to day moving of the Holy Spirit in my quiet time. Several weeks ago, He led me to explore the question, “Is it possible that one man’s heresy is another man’s hunger?” As I began to write, I realized there was far more to say than a single blog could contain. Maybe, that is because the last 30-something years of my life have been based on one thing: the hunger to know Christ… intimately.
“Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, 'Invest this for me while I am gone.'” Luke 19:13.
In the first blog, I shared the parable in Luke 19:11-27, which is the story of the king who gave money to ten of his servant’s. The first two proved their sincerity, made a return on their investment, and were given more responsibilities in the kingdom. The third man hid his box. According to verses 20&21, he hid it because of his personal beliefs about the king.
Fear, I fear, was the spirit behind the man’s box burying, which led me to the question: “When we bury our fears in our theology, do we end up swatting at the gnats in our brother’s doctrine and swallowing the camels in our own?”
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.” ~Benjamin Franklin. Speaking as a former fool, I can only say, “Ouch!”
“But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We do not want him to be our king,'” Luke 19:14. Sometimes, agreeing with the crowd is comfort, but who are they following?
“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind,” Proverbs 18:2. Saul was a fool before he came to know Christ. He killed those whose theology didn’t line up with the theology in his own mind. Hatred, cursing and threats spewed from his mouth against the true disciples of Christ… until he encountered Perfect Love. (Acts 9:1-3)
Love casts out fear and stirs up hunger. Love refuses to follow the crowd or listen to words of hatred and division. Love drives us to learn everything we can about the one we Love.
“But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, 'Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and harvesting crops you didn't plant,'” Luke 19:20&21. (NLT)
Consider some things about this servant:
1.He worked for the king.
2.He received equal compensation for his work.
3.Outwardly, he appeared to be loyal.
4.His true loyalty was with the crowd who hated his master.
5.In his heart, he dishonored, disparaged and even opposed the king.
5.Money revealed what was in his heart.
“What I believe about God is the most important thing about me,” ~A.W. Tozer
No matter how big the crowd, what we believe doesn’t change Who God is; it changes who we are and what we become.
Fear can produce faithful servants of religion. Some serve the King because they are fearful of dying without eternal Life insurance. Outwardly, they appear to be true, but in their heart their loyalty is with another.
When fear is our motivation, doctrine can become our savior. We can be more loyal to our own interpretations than we are to God. Only the god who fits into our carefully defined box is allowed to rule over us.
Fear is man's attempt to control God.
Our fears are best revealed by what makes us angry. Our “reactions” are God’s mirror to the true condition of our heart, but pride keeps us from looking in the mirror. Reacting to protect doctrine, reveals a heart that idolizes theology over the King. When doctrine is the focus, Christ is dishonored and dishonor is the opening act for disobedience.
The servant and the crowd were afraid that someone they neither Loved, honored nor respected might rule over them. How do we know when we are being faithful to a doctrine rather than Christ? The evidence is in the mirror. When our relationships revolve only around people who believe like us, we are worshiping doctrine. When we are afraid of being in the company of those whose theology is different from ours, we are bowing to religion. When we refuse to honor the Holy Spirit in others, we are kneeling at the altar of opinion. And when we dare not hear our brothers message and allow the Holy Spirit in us to discern the truth, we are following the crowd.
No matter what we believe or how perfect we think our doctrine is, without Love, Christ is not our Lord.
Too many times to count, I have had to deal with this stronghold in my own mind and will. In my youth, I often took an obstinate stance against other doctrines. I loved to argue theology because I believed mine to be so perfect. Until God Loved me enough to allow suffering to expose the pride of my heart. Until I stepped down from my pedestal and let go of my own understanding. Until humility had stirred a deep hunger for His presence.
Until He became everything my soul had ever longed for.
Unfortunately, it is easier to live with the doctrine we approve of than to suffer the humility of surrender to the unknown.
“There are two kinds of fools: those who can’t change their opinions and those who won’t.” ~Josh Billings
As I mentioned earlier, I was once that fool. The two men who obeyed the king knew what the crowd believed, but they honored him anyway. All God requires of us is the willingness to come to the foot of the mountain; step out of the crowd, hear His voice and follow Him.
Through the eyes of many young leaders, I have come to recognize some of the strange teaching that is keeping our future mighty men and women of God from stepping into their true destiny. I often ask this question, “If the Lord spoke to you and you knew it was His voice, but your pastor or leaders told you to do the opposite, which voice would you follow?” To a person, their answer is the same. They would follow the voice of their pastor. It is this kind of allegiance to man and not to God that is destroying destinies and keeping His power out of the church.
These two men refused to follow the crowd and their obedience to the king’s command revealed the true condition of their heart. This is what it means to fear the Lord. When my pastor’s voice and God’s voice line up, I know that I am in a season of blessing. I am following the right leader. My hope, however, is in Christ, not in him. Honoring our leaders doesn’t mean blind obedience. If it did, then Jesus was a son of rebellion and worthy of crucifixion. Obedience to God is the prerequisite for following any man. We honor our fellow believers as they honor Christ with their whole heart. We serve one another because we Love one another, but when following direction for our life, we must know where the map came from.
We can honor the voices of the crowd, or the voice of the King. It is our choice and Jesus died to make sure we had the freedom to make it.
The fastest growing sin in the church is control and appeasement; the political spirit of men pleasing men. It is a manifestation of the flesh. It is proof that self, not God, is in control. It comes from commitment to man instead of faithfulness to God; from allegiance to doctrine rather than loyalty to Christ, and from an unwillingness to submit to His absolute Lordship in our lives and the sovereign authority of His Holy Spirit over the individual and over the church.
Where Christ is Lord, Love is evident and humility rules.
“In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state.” ~Brother Yun; The Heavenly Man
We have assumed our blessings meant God’s approval; causing them to be our downfall instead. For many of us, it is only the suffering of our own choices that can break our pride and bring us back to Him. The men who obeyed the king saw obedience as a door of opportunity whereby they could be blessed. When we teach obedience to men and to doctrine, we should not wonder why our families are struggling, our children are disillusioned and the power of God is not present. When we obey man, we get what man can provide. When we obey God, we receive what only God can give.
Here is the irony. It wasn’t until their obedience was complete that the truth about the king was revealed and the crowd was proven wrong. God will never do anything that removes our need of faith. The true nature of the king was benevolent, generous and trustworthy, but only those who followed his voice received. We are not to blindly follow men, but obedience to the voice of God can be blind until after we act. Only then does our faith become sight.
Faith will always require obedience and obedience will always precede blessing.
“Please listen carefully. The key for experiencing the flow of God's living water in your life is … Obedience.” ~Brother Yun; The Heavenly Man
Distrust and dishonor in the body of Christ stirs fear and fear stirs up every evil work. Gossip, contention, strife, and hatred mar the landscape of Christianity today with conflict. Conflict requires choice. We are facing a conflict of heart whereby we choose whether we will Love unconditionally or follow the crowd.
But conflict can also produce growth. The two men obeyed the king in an atmosphere of political opposition and contradiction. Therefore, they received a great reward.
Like offense, conflict is God’s Miracle Grow; His fertilizer for our spiritual maturity. God is not opposed to using conflict as the manure through which He cultivates His fruit in us. The greater the fool, the more manure necessary to produce change. I speak from experience. Have you ever wondered why God didn’t lay doctrine out in 10 bullet points and a color coded map? Without the conflict of differing perspectives, we wither. Without hearing other voices, we cannot discern which one is the voice of God. Without the conflict of encounter, we follow the tone of least resistance; the sound that mirrors our own understanding. Without contrast, we shrivel and become narrow-minded; stuck in the mire of our own pride. We redefine church into separate buildings filled with sameness and uniformity and wonder why we struggle to be relevant.
Fear discards anything that isn’t uniform because our fears need the repetition of sameness in order to feel safe. Conversely, the uniformity of control produces death.
Whether we realize it, or not, our divisions testify against us. Today, we have theological minds from one university calling theological minds from another heretic. And vice versa. There is a verbal war taking place within Christianity and the effect is chilling. While true disciples try to stay out of the fray and continue to walk in Love, this vocal battle is accomplishing what Saul failed to achieve through physical persecution. It is silencing the voice of Christ.
“Every doctrine is heresy in someone else’s doctrine.” ~Ted Dekker; The Forgotten Way
As in Saul’s day, powerless religion is attempting to extinguish the fire of those who are seeing blind eyes opened, those who are witnessing the lame walk and bringing hope to despairing hearts. This war crosses denominational boundaries. It exists within the churches who believe in the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit as vociferously as it does in those that deny Christ’s manifested power on the earth today. There is only one thing that can push us into believing that our doctrine is “right” enough to come against our brother. Pride. The opposite of Love.
The one fruit that identifies us as disciples of Christ, the only thing that will cause the world to take notice because we look like our Daddy-God is Love. Yet, Love is the single greatest casualty of this doctrinal, denominational, theological war.
“How truly wonderful and delightful, to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity! It’s as precious as the sacred scented oil flowing from the head of the high priest, Aaron, dripping down upon his beard and running all the way to the hem of his priestly robes. This heavenly harmony can be compared to the dew dripping down from the skies upon Mount Hermon, refreshing the mountain slopes of Israel. For from this realm of sweet harmony God will release His eternal blessing, the promise of life forever!” Psalm 133 – Passion Translation
To be like Christ, true believers will have to become pioneers. Trailblazers. We will have to tear down our walls and become willing to lay our lives down for one another.
God isn’t in a box, any box, but we are.
As when He walked in the garden, God is looking for a relationship with sons and daughters, not perfect theology. He is looking for extraordinary people who will give Him the honor of being their King. Love for the King and hunger for His presence is the bond that connects this band of brothers; not the belief that they will please Him by developing perfect doctrine. Their honor is reflected in their obedience. They will not hide what He has entrusted to them behind the whim of the crowd. They will run from any voice that does not sound like their Father.
Persecution opposes them. In fact, though their Love-fruit despises the conflict, they are marked by their unwillingness to please the crowd. They claim no perfection; only Christ. Their theology is sometimes messy and sometimes astounding, but it is not their lord. They are willing to die for Christ and Him crucified, but not for an image written and consecrated by man. They are on a journey to unearth color, beauty and revelation unlike anything they ever imagined possible.
They are ready to step into the unknown and go where no doctrine has gone before because they are willing to follow the sound of His voice…
Just outside the box.