Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of doctrines Christians don’t agree on. That’s one reason there are so many denominations, but even within denominations, you’ll find disagreements. These differences in opinion can range from what type of music is appropriate for worship to whether our Messiah is divine or not. I discussed a few doctrinal differences in
Is It OK to Be Divided?
Recently, I saw a discussion in which someone suggested that the content should not be posted because it was divisive and caused arguments within the church. We can agree to disagree on things; you can think I’m legalistic and I can think you’re lawless or antinomian. However, the notion that we shouldn’t even discuss it is a doctrine of devils. The Bible itself says “come let us reason.”
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 📚 Isaiah 1:18 KJV
Imagine if during Messiah’s time, the Pharisees said to His followers, don’t talk about Him because it’s divisive (hint: they basically did tell the disciples this). Imagine if the disciples had disagreed on allowing the Gentiles to join the movement and said “let’s not discuss that, it’s too divisive” (another hint: they had whole councils to discuss the matter). Imagine if Martin Luther and the other pioneers of the reformation had backed down when the Catholic church accused them of heresy and divisiveness. Imagine the Protestant churches of United States staying silent during slavery and the Jim Crow South (hint: they actually were because it was divisive and many of them tried to contort the Bible into excusing their behavior).
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 📚 Matthew 10:34 KJV
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 📚Hebrews 4:12 KJV
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 📚Ephesians 4:17 KJV
Matthew 10:32-42 tells us that the Messiah, by nature is divisive. The sword that He brings is the Word of God which is truth. This repeated in several places, and included in Revelation 1 as well (when the two edged sword comes from His mouth). We are meant to discuss these things and it will divide the congregation. It is dividing the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:36-43). Now, I’m not saying every argument that divides a church is spiritually motivated—many times it’s just human vanity, pride, and greed—however, when it comes to doctrine, it is most certainly something that should be discussed.
Disagreeing With Grace
I concede that there is a point at which we will reach a stalemate. A great example of this is the seventh day Sabbath. Those who argue that they are not required to keep the Sabbath (or in one case I met someone who said that he does have to keep the Sabbath but can keep it on Sunday if he wants), have their arguments that they will stand by and those of us keeping the Sabbath have our arguments which we stand by. We can go back and forth rebutting and rehashing the same arguments and at the end of the day we will likely still disagree. Does that mean I should never mention Sabbath? Does that mean you should never mention Sunday?
The discussion in which it was suggested that the post was divisive, the content was on the pagan origins of Christmas. The original post contained true and factual statements about the origin of the festivities which no one in the discussion refuted. However, many were upset with the post and called it divisive. What I find interesting is that there were thousands of posts of families in matching pajamas (many of which referenced things like Santa Claus and were taken around the pagan trees), no one called them divisive and none of us that know the truth commented on said posts to tear people down… Is it really divisive or is it convicting?
Let’s be honest, some things in the Bible are no brainers (thou shalt not kill) while others are harder to wrap your head around. There are things in the Bible that are not only complex in how they are presented but complex in how we feel about them. We live in a society designed for Sunday worship; it is simply more convenient (and I say that as a person who grew up keeping Sunday before becoming a Sabbath keeper). We live in a society where it’s easier and nostalgic and even fun to celebrate pagan holidays like Christmas. We aren’t just dealing with the complexities of putting the Bible into context; we’re fighting our own desires. I know because I’ve been in that position. I’ve been the person trying to find loopholes in the Word to be able to do what I want. I’ve scoured the scriptures trying to find an excuse to eat seedless fruit since its so hard to find certain fruit with seeds in the grocery store and I miss those fruit. I’ve told myself I can keep any day holy because “God knows my heart.” I’ve gone along with people talking about celebrating Christmas because I didn’t want to rock the boat. As hard as it is to unite, it’s also hard to divide.
Over time, I’ve learned three very important lessons:
- It is the spirit’s job to convict, not mine
- People come to things in their own time
- Sometimes I’m the one missing something
The Spirit Convicts
I’ve noticed a lot of Christians think it’s their job to convert people and I don’t mean non-believers into believers. We see this most clearly with Jehovah’s Witnesses. On many occasions they’ve come to my door to convert me and even after explaining that I’m already saved, they still try to convert me. They aren’t trying to introduce you to Messiah, they’re trying to get you in to their organization. That is not the great commission. Our job as disciples is to lead people to the cross; to introduce them to the Most High God and the Messiah so that they can receive the Holy Spirit. When we study together, when we praise together, whatever we do together, it is the Holy Spirit that leads and moves.
I can explain all day why I believe what I do; and I publish posts about the Sabbath or pagan holidays or the dietary law for those who are reasoning through and wrestling with the topics in their own study. However it is not my job to convict or condemn a person; I only provide information (and I often try to provide both sides and point out where I am biased).
A Time For Everyone
When I look back on the timeline for which I was convicted of certain things, they line up to me gaining independence. Many of the spiritual choices I have made (or make) are choices I did not have living under my parents’ roof. I could not just wake up and decide to keep Sabbath in a family that does not keep Sabbath. I could not just wake up and decide to adhere to the dietary law in a family that cooks everything in pork fat. And YHWH knew that, so He didn’t burden me with the conviction until I was living on my own. Even then, it was not like a light switch. I started studying the Sabbath in 2011, but i didn’t actually start keeping the Sabbath until 2015 or so. I started asking questions about Christmas when I was a child and I’ve known it was pagan for a long time, but I didn’t take a stance until 2014 or so. It takes time for things to really sink in, and that time is between a person and YHWH.
We Aren’t Always Right
When I first started my journey to walk closer to God I was shocked at how much entertainment I consumed that wasn’t Godly. One of the main issues with the content was magic. I quickly got rid of all my DVDs and books that were about these things and was firmly on the “there’s no such thing as good and bad magic” train. However, as I continued to study, I realized that a lot of the miracles performed by God’s chosen people are in fact “magic” by our definition. Many times what they did was similar to what sorcerers did (e.g. Moses vs Pharaoh’s sorcerers or Daniel vs Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men). The difference wasn’t actually the action but who authorized the action. Daniel and Joseph acknowledge that it is YHWH who tells them the interpretation of dreams, the sorcerers give credit to false gods or themselves. When I realized that, I started to look more closely at the critiques I made about magic in certain shows. I have a couple posts on this, so I don’t want to get off topic.
My point is that over time, sometimes we realize that we judged somethings too quickly. The truth is, some times we are the one who is wrong in the discussion.
Come Let Us Reason
Any time I’m annoyed by a discussion, I have to stop and ask myself a few questions:
- Is this conversation for me? (e.g., a social media post or a YouTube video may be for those still researching a topic, if you’ve already made up your mind on the topic or the video doesn’t change your mind, keep it moving or politely correct misinformation; if a someone is harassing you personally with the same conversation over and over again, that’s a different story)
- If it irritated me, why does it irritate me? (re: am I actually righting a conviction from the Holy Spirit?)
- Is it necessary to respond?