Thursday, August 30, 2012

Searching Scripture

Pick a verse, any verse, and build an entire philosophy of ministry around it.  Sadly, that is kind of what has been happening in Christianity for at least the past 20 years.  No matter what literature you read on how to conduct ministry, you will find that everyone has a list of verses to support their position.  So, what is the problem?  The sides not only don't agree with each other, they use Scripture to make the case that the other group is dangerous in their approach.  Huh?  Group A uses Scriptures to support their case and clearly show how group B is wrong.  But Group B has Scriptures to show why they are right and why Group A is wrong. I'm so confused!

If you have ever found yourself in this situation, my encouragement to you is to search the Scriptures!  But here's the catch - by that, I don't mean cross-reference the verses each side is using.  Go beyond that.  Let me use an example based on something I have faced in my own life.  I have a group of Christians whom I greatly respect saying that if you want to do evangelism the way Jesus did, you have to do it this way.  They show several Scriptures to confirm what they say.  They can also use Scriptures to show why other approaches are dangerous.  Yet, I have another group of Christians that I respect telling me that doing evangelism the way Jesus did involves doing what the first group said is bad.  And they also have Scripture to verify their approach.  Tired of the battle in my own mind and heart, I began to search the Scriptures for myself.  And not just checking a list of cherry-picked verses.

I began by going through all 4 Gospels and writing in a notebook every example I could find of Jesus sharing the Gospel, proclaiming the Kingdom, or generally interacting with the unconverted.  What I found is that both groups who had my ear had a point.  However, both, in certain ways, were a little unbalanced.  I saw that the imbalance came in from fear.  Each side was afraid of the extreme examples of the other side.  One group was over-afraid of friendship evangelism that never shares the Gospel, or compromises the Gospel.  The other group was afraid of over-the-top offensive hell-fire preaching.  From that fear, they ended up pushing themselves out of balance.

Granted, the balance of speaking the truth in love is hard.  It is easier to just pick an extreme.  It is harder to careful keep yourself walking in balance.  In can be a bit uncomfortable, as well.

The point is, no matter what the issue, search the Scriptures.  We live in a world hotly divided.  We are in an election year after all!  We can fall victim to the "we are right and they are wrong" thinking.  But if you pull out of that and check the facts, you find that both candidates are airing deceptive and inaccurate commercials.  Whatever theological or spiritual issue has you torn, commit yourself to a long-term project of searching the Scriptures and seeking the truth.  You can be torn for the next 5 years, or take the next year and do more than check cherry-picked verses.  See what the entirety of Scripture says about the issue, then come to a conclusion consistent with the whole counsel of God.

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