Posted by: Heather | February 24, 2010

A Fruitful Seed – Part 1

I’ve been watching several preachers over the internet lately.  Most of these are well known in their circles, and beloved by those that know them.  I’ve even had moments of appreciation for them at times.  Since I choose not to finger-point, I won’t name any specifically.  However, I have found that often these messages aren’t good for my health.   I say that jokingly, yet seriously.  It’s somewhat of a joke at my house that “mom’s blood pressure is rising again”.  At times, after finishing even a short segment of a message, I feel angry and dirty.  It has happened more often lately than I’d like to admit.  Why, you might ask?

I don’t want to feel this way.   But the more I study God’s word and learn, I began to realize that there is a faction of ‘ministry’ out there that uses the Bible as a tool of division rather than unity.

I have recently begun a phase in my life where I can’t allow men to distract me from my own study and pursuit of God and his word.   The Lord has blessed me to learn so much, but the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.  The purpose of the blessing God gives any of us is to teach others in love what God has taught us.  It’s not to use our knowledge as a baseball bat to swing at others, often reminding them that ‘I know more than you do’.  But, it comes to my attention so often lately in the messages I’ve heard from several sources.  Honestly, my heart is grieved because of it.

Romans 16:17 – Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Matthew 7:15-16 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits…

In the past, I’ve often thought that maybe these verses refer to someone coming in from the ‘outside’ and causing division in the church body.  This can be the case.  But, reading and studying them in context reveals those that are causing division, and the false prophets are those that are within the body, not outside it.    These are people that appear to be true, genuine Christians, and probably even believe they are with their whole heart.  It may even be that a large amount of what they say is truth.  They’re often preachers and/or teachers that have a great deal of knowledge.  But, the seed, and method of planting can determine the outcome of the fruit.

To find the truth, we have to look at the fruit of that ministry, and direct our attention toward it.   The Bible doesn’t tell us to judge.  We don’t have authority to do that.  But, it does tell us we will know them by their fruit.  If someone is inflated by their own arrogance, and misrepresents the word of God based on some out-of-context scriptures, there is harm to the body.  If they use the very word of God to belittle others, there is harm to the body.  We know the word of God is a two-edged sword.  But, that sword is to cut away unneeded things on the body, not repeatedly stab another member of the body.

Seeds are easily planted by those we trust and listen to.  I believe that’s why preachers and teachers must be held to high standards for what they speak.  If a minister arrogantly tells you the beliefs of others can’t be valid if they don’t exactly match yours, they plant a seed of mistrust and division in the hearts of their listeners toward others that may not believe exactly the same.   The damage of division is already done at that point.  The seed continues to grow, and as this listener meets people of other denominations or ministries, the idea remains that ‘they are not as holy or together as we are’.  That kind of thinking will not win any.

I said all of that to say that we should minister to one another in love, and in the grace of our Lord Jesus.  This includes crossing denominational lines…not trying to take away from anyone’s relationship with God, but enhancing it with our differences.   I’ve often heard it said that Jesus fought the Pharisees and Saducees because of their constant attempts to keep the law as an act of salvation.  I’m not sure that’s the whole truth.  I wonder if Jesus’ real problem with them was mostly their hypocrisy.  They were very holy and righteous looking on the outside.  They said the right words, and did the right things.  But their arrogance would not allow them to believe others outside of their practice had a relationship with God.   Inside, they were full of judgment and contempt for the very people they didn’t find ‘worthy’.   But, those were the very people Jesus delighted in teaching.  Does that sound familiar?

Part 2 to come…

Blessings, Heather

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