Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beware of the Obsessed

Here is a good post from a pastor about obsessions in the church. He concludes:

Obsessed people inevitably put their obsessions ahead of the church’s health and end up hurting believers and the church. If you don’t share their obsession it is a clear clue to them that something is wrong with you. They are crusaders and consider those who don’t share their obsession to be cowards or traitors. I’ve highlighted two older strands, but there are way more out there. Beware the obsessed!

Yesterday, Doug Wilson's twitter linked to a similarly themed post about entitled "On Women, Divisiveness and Hobby Horses."It is applicable for more then just the kinds of Hobby Horses listed that ladies can become divided on. Here's an excerpt:

But here is the real big issue: Christians are not allowed to have hot button issues which they use to stir up trouble. Sure, you may care about things. Yes, you should have reasons for why you are doing what you are doing.

But have you gotten so involved in an “issue” that you cannot fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters who think it is silly? Are you so caught up in teaching your kids phonics while they are in the womb that you need smelling salts when someone laughs about it? Does it stress you out to see a “christian” mother feeding her children easy cheese? Do you long to pelt her house with copies of Nourishing Traditions with important parts highlighted? Are you the wrath of God as pertains to birthing methods, educational systems, and nutrition? 
Now here is the thing. Principles are the things that God lays out for us. Love your children. Serve the Lord. Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Children are a blessing. Be fruitful. Methods are the tools we use to try to accomplish these things.

All this reminds me of the more basic instruction we have from Paul:
1 Timothy 1:3-4-- 3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not hto teach any different doctrine, 4 nor ito devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.  
Titus 3-- 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for rthey are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, safter warning him once and then twice, thave nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
We are not to come to the church and insist on our obsessions--whether they are genealogies, quarrels about the law (e.g. the OT law), the latest fad of teaching or method, the latest how-to for being a mom or a better church. These are all baggage that we bring in and should not be tolerated for divisions. This means even that there can be some really good advice out there on how to teach a child to read, how to homeschool, how to change your oil, how to save money as a faithful Christian, etc. etc. But it is only that: good advice. It cannot become our obsession or our main devotion. Even it it isn't our main or only devotion, it can rise to high in our priorities that it crowds out the most important things, or it creates division. "I can't believe you as a Christian still do X [where X is some non-moral, non-sin issue]" or "I can't believe you aren't doing Y [where Y is some optional issue that may be a good principle but is not mandated by Scripture]."

Then too, preachers and the church can and must only bind the believers conscience when and where Scripture clearly binds the conscience--either by direct statement [Scripture says "do not do..."] or where Scripture clearly binds by good, necessary and unavoidable consequences [e.g. Scripture might not say "do not engage in eugenics" but as practiced it clearly violates other Biblical commands (murder, etc.)].

For Paul what is the "trustworthy statement" which we are to insist on? Why do we insist on it? For none other than the accomplishment of good works. Here is the anchor:
Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
It centers on the gospel. Lets hope we do the same.

No comments:

"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...