Spiritual Immaturity

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, ESV

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The Church is no stranger to jealousy and dissension, but as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 3, it’s actually a sign of spiritual immaturity. He repeats his comment about following certain teachers, from chapter 1, but this time makes it a point to say that no matter who we follow, the foundation of what we believe must be Christ; and each teacher and pastor simply builds upon that foundation. It’s God who provides the growth. In other words, we each have a part to play within the body of Christ, but it’s God who really does the work. We are all equally important and equipped by Him to complete the tasks He’s assigned to us; no one’s role is bigger or better than another, just different, and all have the same goal: to preach Christ crucified.

Paul goes on to say, in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, that our works (faith in action) will one day be tested by fire. These verses make me think of the story of the three little pigs. You know how you have one pig that builds a house of straw; one, a house of sticks; and another, a house of bricks; and only the house of bricks is left standing? Why is that? I believe it was because two of the pigs refused to put in any real effort, or thought, into what they were building: a home that would stand the test of time. I think as believers we can fall into this same line of thinking. We may serve, but with the wrong mindset. Our purpose should be to build the Church–to add to the kingdom–but sometimes we feel the task we’ve been issued is too small or insignificant, or we just do it to check it off a list, instead of focusing on the big picture. According to this passage our salvation isn’t necessarily at stake, but apparently another heavenly reward will be denied. I can’t help but wonder what that might be. What might we miss out on, because our hearts and minds weren’t fully in line with God’s heart?

Again, our goal as believers is to worship the one true God with our lives; and if we truly believe in the message of the gospel, we can’t help but share it with the people around us. And that is God’s heart! That all would come to Him and be saved! When jealousy and strife enter the church, they do more to tear down the Church, than to build it up. So, let us allow the Holy Spirit to continue His work in us and ask that He help us see the bigger picture, and the greater goal we’re working towards. Finally, let us stop worrying about who has a bigger or better role in the plan of God, because what matters most is the attitude of our heart as we shower the love of God on our neighbors and point them towards Christ.

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Division in the (Early) Church

I began this post at the end of my second pregnancy, and I’ve been pretty distracted since then; about a month ago I gave birth to another little girl, my little “Bug.” She was overdue by 6 days and I was an emotional wreck, as I waited for her arrival, lol.

Before then, however, I did a study on the book of John, and have since then moved on to the epistles–Paul’s letters to the early churches. The epistles are so interesting, and although, I’ve been running on very little sleep, and struggle to remain focused I figured writing would help me organize my scattered thoughts. One of the things I always enjoy about the epistles, is how Paul addressed the early Church as they struggled with many of the same things we struggle with today.

For instance, the epistles cover division (and unity), immortality, and idolatry within the Church; forgiving those who don’t deserve it, reconciliation, and generosity; salvation through grace; faith as evidenced through works; gifts of the Spirit; and so much more. They really are powerful, Spirit-filled little books of the Bible, that shouldn’t be ignored.

Today, we’ll take a quick look at 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, in which, Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about division in the church. Apparently, people were divided over teachers of the gospel. Think of it this way, they favored some teachers over others, and argued over who was the better teacher. Does this sound familiar?

Paul had to remind them that they weren’t following him, but Christ! He basically says, “Y’all weren’t baptized in my name! And you certainly aren’t saved by my words; for it’s the power of the cross that saves!”

Today’s believers often fall into this same trap. We may follow a preacher or teacher (or even, church denomination) at the expense of unity. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be discerning when it comes to teachers and preachers of the Word; because, obviously, if a teaching is unbiblical we shouldn’t be accepting of it. However, more often than not, the differences between pastors/teachers we follow are more about preferences, like teaching styles and traditions, than biblical foundations. (I actually shared a post on this way back in 2012, which you can find here.)

Do you know, there are some who are willing to cross denomination lines and attend churches that they didn’t grow up in, or consider themselves to be members of? For some of you, that may be sacrilegious! But if we are all Spirit-filled believers and followers of the Word, this should be the norm. After all, we’re all One body, whose head is Christ; and only once we understand this and move together in the spirit of unity, will we make a real difference in our communities.

Whoever is Not Against Us is For Us

A number of things occurred today. 1) I was looking for a sermon to listen to and came across a pastor bashing a Christian author. I didn’t listen to it mainly because I was a little upset to have discovered it to begin with. 2) I came home and spent some time in my Bible and came across Mark 9:38-41…

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”

Hmmm…Makes you think, doesn’t it?!

This summer we’ve been studying Genesis in my Sunday school class; and upon reading the first verse–In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth–we were questioned, “How important is it to believe the literal meaning of that verse?” Well, my first thought was, “If we don’t believe that verse, then we question the entire Bible; it becomes nothing but a fairytale.” (These were questions to get us thinking.)

Further along we were asked,  “What must we believe to be saved?” What a question! There are certainly fundamental truths that all Christians hold to: the Scriptures inspired by God (Bible), only one true God (revealed in 3 persons: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit); the deity of Christ; the virgin birth; Jesus’ sinless life, His death, and resurrection on the cross for our sins, etc.

So, MY question is this…Why all the backbiting?! Why do we fight and bicker amongst ourselves over Bible interpretation…why don’t we just live it!? Why don’t we love the way God wants us to love? Treat people as He wants us to treat them? Share the gospel; the story of His love and devotion for them? Why aren’t we using the gifts, that He’s so graciously bestowed upon us, to guide others in His direction?

Trying to live the Law to the letter and forcing it on others, without exhibiting mercy and love towards their fellow-man, is the same mistake the Pharisees and Sadducees made! The whole point of the Law was to point out what’s wrong;  yes, so that we’d be aware and turn away from it. And it’s not wrong to tell others something is immoral, according to God’s word; however, just because someone has chosen to live a certain lifestyle doesn’t mean we love them any less. How many people enter a church feeling worthless, and disgusted with themselves, looking for hope and love and find something less than welcoming?

It takes a radical heart change for someone to change their lifestyle. Beating them over the head with rules and regulations isn’t going to do it. I should know…I was one of those people. I knew all the rules and regulations because I grew up in church; but it took a radical heart change, and recognition of God’s love and grace and mercy, before I changed how I was living.

Sorry, I feel like I’m a little off topic…Back to what I was saying…We, the Christian church, need to stop fighting amongst each other, and take His love to the world, in an overwhelming and passionately driven, type of way.

I read somewhere once that the many denominations of believers all have different “gifts.” Some churches have excelled at providing shelter to the homeless, some have well-endowed orphanages, others have been blessed with miraculous healing ministries, family and marriage counseling centers, children’s ministries, mentoring programs,  or drug rehabilitation programs…the list can go on and on. However, just because the ministries are different, doesn’t mean any one is better than the other.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4-5)

We’re all part of the same body! Therefore, we need to stop acting like we’re better than one another and recognize we all have the same head; and with that, the same goals and purpose.