Multiplicity AND Exclusivity Part Two

Yesterday I tried to set the stage for understanding of how God, the creation and people are not continuously static nor fluid. Though God Himself is unchanging (“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”) we are not. We each and all change in some, sometimes many areas of our lives while in other matters never change.

One of several helpful lessons I learned from being the youngest child, my Dad marrying late in life and him often in convos with friends much older than he was that age is a huge difference-maker.

Older people seem to end up either more gracious or more brittle, with more kindness or conversely meanness. As one who seeks to please God above all else which do you think the Spirit desires in we who profess to follow Jesus?

The reality is that there continues to be two mission fields- the one around the church and within the churches themselves.

Showing up doesn’t equal following the Lord, living a life that reflects His love, confessing and repenting of what He Himself calls sin in His Word nor confessing Christ before a sometimes hostile world and sometimes hostile church.

Reformation first and always must begin (and has in history) in “me”, the individual. RE-THINKing, RE-forming -being formed by God the Holy Spirit indeed must happen for a loving, truth-facing/bearing disciple of Christ. Consider the harsh, mean focus of the religious leaders called Pharisses, Sadducees and the scribes (who clearly delved into scripture daily) or teachers of the law who opposed the true Lord and Savior rather consistently in the four Gospel accounts.

On the other hand His GOOD News of salvation, mercy, forgiveness, the pardon and welcome of Jesus was among His own disciples sometimes diluted by “They’re not with US Lord, shall we pray the Father to rain down fire upon THEM?” as though all who disagreed with them were another form of the prophets of Baal. His response to them? “You do not know what spirit you are of.”

MY way isn’t always God’s way! Consider the vast differences within the larger church in the world, the ongoing disputes and disagreements between otherwise professing followers of Christ from the earlier history of the church until this day! MULTIPLICITY EXISTS AND WILL NOT GO AWAY BY OUR INDIVIDUAL/SHARED CLAIMS TO ORTHODOXY.

Flawed, unlike the Perfect Savior we trudge on and often leave blood in our wake.

“But” you say, “I KNOW the truth! THEY deny it!” There are times I’m sure you are correct -and other times you are not regardless how deeply-held your particular position may be. Me too.

What to do if this is the case re. understanding, application of God’s Word, in some cases denial and rejection of what it says, churches containing unsaved, backslidden people, a world full (like the churches) of sinners, people who sometimes more closely live out the good, gracious commands of Jesus than we professing disciples of His do?!

Face multiplicity as reality and learn to treat others with the grace, compassion and indeed agape love of Jesus.

SOOOOO much easier said than done.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Matthew 23.37/Luke 13.34 When the Lord sums it up it seems to me “you were not willing!” leaps up in my face.

To demand all think, dress, play music, do church, live in “civil” society, vote and otherwise choose as you do isn’t going to “win” hearts to Jesus, neither in nor outside of the churches.

Why is such attitude a fail?

The Perfect (and ONLY so) Jesus Himself lived, daily walked among flawed and sinful disciples, seekers, enemies during His earthly ministry. How did He treat them? Multiplicity of belief and actions even when He was correcting them was done from a motive of pure love. For you and I dear reader, not so. We are often more concerned about others conforming and converting to -us- than to Him.

Finally, what about this thing called exclusivity?

We could discuss sanctification as a doctrine (which is another of those issues the vast sea of believers on earth have varying views about) but unlike God, we are not fully perfected/holy/separate in the literal sense. God IS. We’re not!

God has every right, claim and ability to be fully exclusive. Read that sentence again please. It’s Who He IS, the only nature He has in Himself. Notice any difference between the LORD and us???

When we claim or live out exclusivity (not uncommon at all…) in a world and Church/churchES chocked full of multiplicity we can so easily become like the Pharisees Jesus debated, rebuked and called out in public. He told His disciples the leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. It was and still runs through each (and I do mean each) of us.

When Paul wisely writes the church in Corinth to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

I am convinced Paul is calling for a brutal honesty, integrity, humility, needed confession and repentance.

When do we not need a re-thinking reformation in our hearts and lives where faith, hope and the love of God mark us in our interactions with both God and others?

John put it in the most simple terms: “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” 1 John 4.16

If we will not learn to interact with others in/by/from God’s love, grace and compassion what we say, write and shout about doctrines and “church preferences” display not the mind of Christ nor heart of God, but instead brittle, exclusive people who are merely fighting a multiplicity in humankind that will never go away prior to the church being gathered into the literal presence of God at the end of time as we here experience it.

What of Christians who swing at the air trying to land blows in the lives of sinful people or defeat demons and doctrines of devils? That’s a fruitless effort in a fallen world of multiple choices, multiple options, paths, cultures and subcultures both in and outside of anything we might consider “church”.

For those who prefer to keep shooting, shall we not best make God’s love our aim?! Paul sums it up perfectly:

“All that you do must be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 14.1

I am fully convinced our exclusive God has created a world of multiplicity and seeks to redeem us to Himself as well as one another. It’s Who He is, and also how He made us and the world we live in.

All will give account to Him for what we did in and with it -and how we treated one another.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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