(Becoming a follower of the ONE who WAS Truth, in a very deceived and ungracious world.)
Recently I have found it challenging to boldly stand for the truth, while keeping a gracious attitude toward those who, either haven't obtained to the same level of truth, or worse, are completely resistant to receiving this particular truth on a particular difficult subject. Perhaps because it is new, perhaps because they are doctrinally “dug in”, or perhaps because they don't care what God thinks really – they are happy with what they know, they don't want their comfort zones messed with. And honestly, who does?
I don't really get into judgment with people, first of all because it is forbidden to do so! And also because – (a) I haven't come into all the fullness of the Truth myself. (duh), and (b) I was at the exact same place only a couple of years ago usually, struggling to get past my doctrinal error and traditional comfort zones to pursue the Truth at the next level! And (c.) I am STILL there on some subjects! I STILL haven't let the “despicable, idolatrous” Christmas tree go yet! I STILL have not received it as an idolatrous symbol! Because – after all – “it has never been that to us”! But I have to ask myself if that is really true. If it isn't, why is so hard to let it go?
I can tell myself that it is because of the kids... I mean, Gene and I gave it up before, when we attended a Messianic Synagogue in Florida, before kids....etc. And it was no big deal, because it made the people happy with whom we were in fellowship then. But just as soon as we returned to the “Christian” culture of the “Church of God” in Georgia it crept back in. So perhaps the “idol” for us isn't the tree? Perhaps it is people? Perhaps it is being accepted? Hmmm....
But even the stuff on which I am FIRMLY convinced, like “Easter” (which is even named after a heathen idol - Ashtar) and Halloween (which was a ridiculously vain effort at scaring away demonic presences during the Satanic Rituals originally, in the dark ages, which were called that for a reason - and therefore not fit for Christian attention...), are difficult to explain to those who have not been so enlightened. Because, you see, the Spirit of God must prepare our hearts to receive these paradigm shifts! We can not just throw out years of tradition because someone else thinks it is wrong! Sane people just don't do that! Religious people sometimes do, but I think religion seriously, negatively affects sanity and logical thinking!
And, more than even just standing for the new truths I've finally received myself, is the really difficult part of deciding who needs, or even wants, to be so enlightened. Trying to discern who is ready? And – furthermore – trying to explain oneself to those who are NOT ready, nor are they even willing to be so enlightened on this subject! Because, of course, to them it just looks like some radical religious over-kill – which is usually dismissed as “legalism”.
I find that obedience is regularly dismissed as legalism, especially if it threatens a well loved family or religious tradition! But Obedience to the Truth, which the Spirit of God is sworn to lead us all into, eventually, as we can handle it, is imperative to our spiritual growth! So it is a hard line to find. I believe that all sincere believers will eventually come to the same conclusions. But it depends on their teaching – which is too often laden with faulty doctrinal error, etc. - and their actual level of relationship with God, whether they are Spirit-indwelt, or just Spirit attended, etc. - and also their level of spiritual maturity – how long and how fervently they have been pursuing God and His Truth, and other variables, such as these.
I think the answer, or at least the solution which I have found and implemented is this – I will do, I will stand upon, and I will do my best to explain what I believe is His TRUTH – to my death if necessary – but I have NO right to put this “revelation” on anyone else – and certainly no right or obligation to condemn them for not agreeing! Each one HAS to come to these TRUTHS on their OWN by the leading of HIS SPIRIT! Or else is isn't obedience to Truth, it is compliance to pressure! I DO have an obligation to preach TRUTH, however, as opportunity arises, in the venues which offer Truth to people for the taking – or leaving – as the case may be! But it should not come with judgment! And that is the line that is difficult to discern.
I think this exhortation of Peter (Kefa) the Apostle sort of sums up the best approach to the handling of Truth.....
“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from Evil, and do Good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the Eyes of Yehovah (The LORD) are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of Yehovah is against those who do evil.”
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;...” 1st Peter 3:8-18
So I end with this - If in my zeal, I have ever offended any of you, I ask your forgiveness, and grace. I am learning too. And if the Spirit of God is tugging at your comfort zones, perhaps you should shut yourselves into your prayer closet and duke it out with Him until you give in. Growth involves change. And If any of you see things in MY life that need to come up another level pray for me, share if the Spirit leads you – but be sure to stay within the guidelines which Peter gives! Thanks!
I do believe that His Spirit is leading each of HIS people into ALL of HIS TRUTH – which is the only real Truth. And I do believe that we can find the grace to love each other, and to be our authentic selves at each level – to be and love who we are, on the way to where we are going!