From an early age, my parents were forced to engage with me in “regular disciplinary sessions.” Perhaps that’s putting it mildly. All political correctness aside, I was spanked as a child when I acted up, and rightfully (not to mention scripturally) so. After all, we’re talking about the kid who, for no reason other than his own amusement and selfishness, once bit his younger brother’s toe. And not just a little nibble. We’re talking about a full blown, all out, carnivorous gnawing of human flesh and tissue. Needless to say, my two year-old hind parts remained red, raw, and reeling for much of the day (and my subsequent childhood).
As children, we are greedy, egocentric, and immature. But as we age, particularly as Christians, we are charged and expected by God to become more and more Christ-like and adult in our thinking and lifestyle. Remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (New American Standard-updated edition). Thus far in our series, we have discussed how seemingly insignificant issues can divide entire churches and violently split groups of believers. We have subsequently seen the explicit need for clear spiritual eyesight before making decisions in the gray areas of life. But what about all the seriously sanctimonious scrapping that occurs more often than it should within churches in the first place? How can we resolve these unnecessary and often unwarranted fights between born again believers, brothers and sisters in Christ?
We must come to a clear understanding that when Christians do argue and bicker over senseless issues (gray areas included), it leaves a permanent, unmistakable scar on the church, the surrounding community, and immediately damages the sacrifice Christ made on the cross and His testimony in the world.
The first cause of carnality is a diet problem. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.” (Paul speaking to the early church: 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, NASU). Keep in mind that carnal Christians are still Christians, still saved, still under grace and the blood of Calvary. Paul reminds us of this by addressing them as “brethren”-they are still part of the body. Unfortunately, they have chosen to act childish and/or lukewarm about and in their faith and spiritual walk. They have not been properly satiated with the solid and sound theologies and teaching of the Word of God and the God of the Word. Thus small gray areas, to them, become life and death arguments.
The second cause of carnality is the walk. Carnal Christians have chosen to walk in their flesh, as unsaved nonbelievers, and ignore the help offered by the Holy Spirit. Remember why the Holy Spirit came into the world in the first place? “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom my Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jesus speaking to His disciples: John 14:26, NASU). The farther we get from the control and influence of the Holy Spirit, the more likely we are to walk in the flesh.
Lastly, carnality is often caused by a distorted view of God’s sovereignty. The Corinthian church struggled to see the omniscient hand of God in their midst, as they were too focused on the works, preaching styles, and reputations of other “spiritual” men (i.e. Apollos and even Paul). In doing so, they failed to see the amazing works of God. Paul was forced to remind them that it is “God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 5:6), not man.
So how do we go about repairing the broken mindset embodied by so much of the aforementioned? What will it take to mend a global, ravaged, ragamuffin church? First and foremost, we must, above all, daily exercise a continuous sensitivity to and embracing of the Cross of Christ (see Paul’s words in Galatians 6:14). After all, as discussed before, once controversial issues and gray matters are held up to the Cross and viewed through the red, redeeming blood of Christ, they soon become not so worth bickering about.
In the book Restoring Broken Things (Integrity Publishers: 2005), co-authored by Senior Pastor Scotty Smith and multi Dove and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, Scotty says, “And yet this same promise of Christ likeness [referenced in 1 John 3:2-3] is also threatening, not in a way that causes fear, but in that it calls for change. For just as God’s ways are not our ways, so God’s definition of beauty is significantly different from ours. The Bride Jesus is preparing for Himself is not always the one we instinctively choose to become.”
Finally, we must commit to spending time in the Word of God and with the God of the Word. In Psalm 119:11, David penned these words many of us know so well: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” (NASU). According to Merriam-Webster’s 10th ed. Dictionary “to treasure” means to, “collect and store up (something of value) for future use; to hold or keep as precious.” The daily memorizing of and reflection upon Scripture will keep us grounded in God’s value system and keep us from our own selfish desires and human values. When we practice God’s values in the midst of life’s gray areas, we become more able to think like Him, more able to make Godly decisions.
-Josh Givens, The Underground Staff Writer
For more feature articles, news, and commentary on pop culture from a Christian perspective, visit The Underground online Christian magazine at: www.theundergroundsite.com
This article was originally published here: http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2009/08/black-white-gray-all-over-part-3/