Thursday, September 19, 2002

Edifier du Jour-Ephesians 4:1-7(NASB)
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift
This verse can be badly misread, but I'll give it a go. The verse points to a capital-C Church that comprises all believers, but defining membership's always tricky. I've got the Anglican story still in my craw this morning and am discerning how this verse applies. Where there is schism, someone is out of step. Either at least one of the parties is outside of a proper knowledge of God, or they are fighting over points that can be disagreed over without questioning each other's salvation. The liberal will cling to the message of tolerance in verse two like a grease stain to your best suit, but the unity Paul is shooting for is a unity within the Holy Spirit. If the liberal's view of the Holy Spirit is not unlike The Force in the Star Wars movies, a personless power permeating the universe, they are not worshiping the same God the more orthodox believer is. I'm thinking of the verse from the old camp song "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord...." However, if the liberal's Jesus is a good teacher who died two millennia ago and the conservative's Jesus is Lord and Savior, we aren't one in the Lord. If our vision of the Spirit goes from a sentient, feeling person active in our daily lives to some cosmic power source to tap into, we aren't one in the Spirit. They may know we are Christians by our love, but they'll know even more by how we follow His Word, which includes loving our fellow man. Sometimes being truly loving will be to point out to someone that they on the fast lane to Hades and they need to do a 180 and come to Jesus. The attitude of not addressing the problem areas in their lives and just smothering them with compassion is sloppy agape and falls short of what God's looking for. Tackling those problems might not be PC, but it's often exactly what's needed. One can start to carry theological purity to an extreme, excommunicating each other for letting guitars into church or having the wrong premillennial time-line. We need to check whether our actions grieve the Holy Spirit and pick the fights that He would want us to pick.

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