Do Your Filters keep Jesus from Having His Way in Your Life and Church?
In a recent discussion with two other Christian leaders our conversation turned to situations we had experienced where people's filters, traditions, Church government model, doctrine or worldview kept them and their churches from having a greater part in what God desired to do among them.
Among these issues were:
1. The place of women in the functioning of the church, putting a women’s role in predetermined boxes which resulted in the touch of God on them and the gifting in their life not being released, thus keeping others in the Church from being blessed, and in fact allowing men who were not as gifted, nor as mature or of as good character to lead in the place of these women.
2. The seeming inability of believers from one group within the kingdom to accept and welcome others who have new insights into how we teach the truths of scripture today, such as the role of the supernatural in the church today. Does God speak and work supernaturally among His people today, and if He does under what rules and through whom and according to what pattern?
3. The recent resurgence of the concept of the role and office of apostles and prophets among Pentecostals, Charismatic and the new Apostolic movement. To some this discussion is only a matter of what we call people who have a certain role or function. Although this is a structural issue it is also an important doctrinal issue to others.
These three issues are not our topic today, but are used to illustrate our point.
We may be in various camps when it comes to these issues, but we must be careful not to claim that we have absolute knowledge or that our positions are the only possible true ones. When we do we can miss out on what God is doing and how He is building His church.
We must understand that 'we see through a glass darkly', that is to say although God has given us perfect truth we are not yet perfect in our understanding. This should keep us humble and open to learn the new ways God is speaking and working in His Church today, so that the revival or revolution that once brought our camp or denomination to life does not become enthroned above God and thus become 'philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.'
The material that follows is from Cynthia Griffin's recalling of our discussion. She was one of the leaders in the discussion mentioned above. Below is the heart of what she shared concerning these things.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:6-8).
Sounds simple enough, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him...” But what about verse 8, “beware lest anyone cheat you”? Why is “beware” there? As I read it, “beware” means, “listen up, you need to hear this.” What was going on in the church of Colosse that Paul felt he needed to include the warning?
Evidently, there were teachers who were trying to introduce doctrine that would undermine the basic principles of the faith: the deity, absolute lordship, and sufficiency of Christ. Are we to heed this as a warning to the church today?
Paul makes it pretty clear as to what to watch out for: philosophy and empty deceit; according to the tradition of men; according to the basic principles of the world. Once again, sounds simple enough. But, has philosophy, tradition, or basic principles of the world made their way into the church today? This may sound harsh, but I believe God is jealous for His Bride and desires to have her without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).
I believe it is time for all of us (myself included), to examine what we believe and why? Then, how do we practice what we believe? I look to Jesus as my example. Did Jesus think or act denominationally or politically? As I read the scriptures, I see him speaking of only one kingdom, the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). What about methods and practices? Are we doing what we do because that's the way it's always been done, or that's the way we've learned to do it from others? Jesus had a different approach. He only did what he saw His Father doing (John 5:19).
Going back to Colossians 2:6-7, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” “Beware” is still there, now, as it was then.