Thursday, June 03, 2004

Fine Lines

This last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to a friend of mine while on a trip to New Mexico. He is involved in some exciting things with the body of Christ and taking people deeper in their faith. During the course of our conversation, my friend, unwittingly perhaps (thanks RP), confirmed a whole range of characteristics God had been revealing to me about our Christian walk. RP was speaking of the "fine line" between interdependence and codependence. Interdependence is a quality of relationship whereby the people relating tend to work together to beneficially affect everyone involved. Each member has something significant to share and they use what they have to build up the others while also being built up. This is a healthy relationship among members and is characteristic of the manner in which the parts of the human body work together.

Codependence is a term many of us have heard with regard to drug and alcohol abuse. A codependent is a person who relies upon another, or even manipulates the other, to have some need filled. In the drug or alcohol cultures, this need is a fix, or supply of drugs or alcohol to feed the addiction, or simply the empowerment to continue in the addiction. Unfortunately, all too often we see this same codependency exhibited in churches throughout the nation. Large (or small, I do not mean to discriminate) groups of people gather together every Sunday to be fed and ministered to by a pastor, worship leader, Sunday school leader, etc. They come and get their "religion" fix, or "forgiveness" fix, or "music" fix, each week. Whether it be in a drug addicted human body or a "church" addicted body of Christ, this relationship is dangerous to the proper functioning of the body, and tends to lead to death.

We can see the "fine line" here between someone in church who is ministered to while also ministering, and the one who only just soaks up the ministry being handed out. No wonder we have so many pastors who suffer from stress and burn out, as well as any number of other sinful activities. They are like a battery we use up, throw out, and replace. Sometimes we hook them up to the "charger" (retreats, pastor’s conferences, etc.), but generally we are only interested in what they provide us.

This is not, however, the subject of this post. My subject here is "fine lines." The LORD has been showing me many different "fine lines" in this relationship we have with Him. One such "fine line" could be delineated from my
first post. The "fine line" between reaction to heresy in the church and identification by that reaction. For instance, most of us are somewhat familiar with the fact Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic priest who, after reading the Bible, realized much of the Roman Catholic doctrine was flawed. When he was unable to affect change within the church, he left. I do not see this to be a problem. The problem was how his followers then identified themselves with Luther rather than the Christ Luther found. Thus we have the Lutherans. The Calvinists formed in much the same way. In fact we can trace nearly any denomination to such reaction and identification. Why are the Baptists called Baptists? It is because they identify themselves with the issue of baptism, and that by immersion. Why do we have Pentecostals? Because these people identify themselves with the issue of Holy Spirit power as seen at Pentecost. I could go on. The key question here is whether the body of Christ will go where God is and then follow him, or will the body go where God is and then let Him carry on without us as we cherish the teaching rather than the Teacher.

My second post also showed a "fine line." A doctrine is being taught in churches in various places adding baptism of the Holy Spirit to the requirements for salvation. Can you see the "fine line?" The baptism of the Holy Spirit in power is not a requirement of salvation, but an evidence of it. I will not rehash the post I previously had written but you can read it
here. Jesus said miraculous things would follow those who believed in Him. This does not mean we must exhibit the power of the Holy Spirit to become saved, but we can see how easily it would be to fall into this doctrine.

Another "fine line" can be seen in the idea of the trinity of God. I also covered this some in a
previous post. It is equally easy to fall into the fallacy claiming there to be three equal gods unified in purpose as it is to fall into the fallacy claiming the three manifestations of God are simply Him revealing himself in different ways in different contexts.

So what is the purpose of all this? Why do we need to know about "fine lines?" Simply this: Jesus said, "wide is the gate and broad is the path which leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) Jesus also said, "Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord. Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:22-23) This word "knew" indicates deeply intimate knowledge, the kind which is mutual. I infer from this the previous verse can also mean we did not know Him. "Why do I say this" you ask? Because Christ is God and He knows us better than we know ourselves since He knit us together in the womb. So when He says in Matthew He never knew us, I think He means we never entered into relationship with Him and got to know Him.

We start to flirt with the danger of "fine lines" when we forsake intimate knowledge of Christ through the Holy Spirit for doctrines and teachings which rest on the vain understanding of finite men. The road is narrow, and not just anybody travels it. Frequently people stray from the narrow path into heresy simply by taking a scripture out of context. This is the importance of the Holy Spirit: He never takes scripture out of context, but reveals the full truth of Christ to the hearts of God’s people. Because he is one and unified, He will never tell one group of people one way is right and tell another group a different way is right. Only one way exists. That way is full knowledge (intimacy) of Christ.

This is the heart of the vision of the reviving body. Christ is seeking those who seek more intimate knowledge and will turn from the wickedness of their own hearts and their own understanding from the midst of the millions who claim to be His and cry out "Lord, Lord." These cannot help but be unified in purpose. Drop the arguments over baptism, for baptism will flow from Christ. Stop arguing over the Holy Spirit, for He also has been sent of Christ. Do not be concerned over the Great Commission, for it too will be fulfilled in Christ when we let Him rule in our lives by his salvation. All of these discussions are deviations from the "fine lines" upon which we can only remain through the sustaining guidance of the Holy Spirit.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing what you have. I am challenged and encouraged to get to know Jesus better and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

To me, the part about codependence speaks to the lack of involvement and ministry by many believers. We too often just take, take, take, rather than giving of what the Lord has given us. We have become fat, just as your vision describes, as we continue to take and not use what we have been given.

The Lord has said we are "a royal priesthood." This includes every believer. This means every believer has authority in Christ (royalty) and is given power to minister to God and others (priesthood). It is not just a pastor's job to minister.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason many churches and denominations are not open to the manifestations of The Holy Spirit. They are not based on what The Holy Spirit teaches. They know that The Holy Spirit will contradict what they have been teaching. Here is what Christ has done for us. The scriptures say two very powerful things about Christ. First of all, His incomparably great power has been given to the church. His power is like that that raised Jesus from the grave. Second, Christ was made head over all things in Heaven and Earth for the church. Third His authority has been given to the church. Thus, the church is called to go to all of the world and make disciples teaching all that Christ has taught the church. So, we see the reasons Satan wants to keep us distracted and away from an intimate relation with Christ. If the church does not have an intimate relationship with Christ, it will have no power, it will disconnected from the head (as a result, no passion, no purpose, no mission, no love), no authority and as a result will make no disciples. Therefore, if the church does not have an intimate relationship with Christ, multitudes will suffer eternal death. As a result, multitudes will perish but their blood will be on the hands of the church. God forgive us.