Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Camp In A Cave

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
(Psalm 15:1 – ESV)

The love that God requires is spelled out in Scripture as needing to come from God Himself. We cannot produce this kind of love. It comes to us through the Holy Spirit. This love will seek out others of like, precious faith. The stylistic preferences and certain convictions may not change much, but a true lover of God will love other believers in spite of minor differences, and won’t look to make minor things major stumbling blocks to fellowship.

We have talked before about someone joining together with others who had a belief in the mystical walk they were engaging in. Elsewhere we have discussed the fact that it is not good to withdraw totally from society, to live in a “church ghetto”, as it were. Whatever the reason, many have nothing to do with other believers. They hide out with their own in a "cave".

All of these are similar in that they paint a picture of a love for peculiarity. This is self-love (the group can be used as the self), not love for God and man. Saying that “we pray for them, but we will not fellowship with them” when exercised on all fronts is a perversion of earnestly contending for the faith.

When a group is shunned by the larger church (or even when it is self-applied) sometimes that group will revel in the fact that they are different. This must mean they are right, they will think, because they are being “persecuted”. This was often seen among the other false movements of the past. We see it today, and an “us against the world” mentality can be hard to pierce through.

Do you ever wonder why gangster films and TV shows appeal to so many? It is partly because of the loyalty factor. The people in the family are well taken care of, there is revelry in togetherness, and the family sticks it to those who mess with one of their own. Even though these men are thugs, they are seen in a sympathetic light because they are thought of as basically good people with a bad job. Watch such a program with a crowd and see what comments you get, like “at least they do this”, or “at least they don’t do that”, or “I would shoot that guy, too”, or “maybe they are crooks, but they aren’t all bad”, or “they are basically good on the inside”.

How does this apply? Think about it. These wise guys are seen as heroic or good in a way because they take care of their own. How many people do you know that are nice to loved ones, but mean as rattlesnakes to everybody else? This parallels the lawyer in the Good Samaritan parable, wanting to know exactly whom he has to love, so as to know whom he can exclude. When we love only those like us we are doing no better than the world (Matthew 5:46-47).

Jesus said to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). It is easy to love your friends, and this is the line of demarcation between the Spirit of Truth and a spirit of error. We must come together on the basis of the essentials of the faith, have respect for others who hold to differing secondary doctrines, and show the love of Christ to the outside world by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever met, known, or been someone involved in the “we are the only ones who are right” society? They have conferences with celebrities of their sect whom no one else has ever heard of. Not that notoriety is good or bad, but that the reason these flakes aren’t known to other sections of the body of Christ is because no one else will buy their brand of baloney! They have their own ministry mafia; they are their own spiritual syndicate. They think they have exciting camp meetings but they might as well hold them in a cave, for there isn’t much light shining out.


Jonathan Moorhead said...

"Have you ever met, known, or been someone involved in the “we are the only ones who are right” society? They have conferences with celebrities of their sect whom no one else has ever heard of."

. . . chuckling . . . yes, I have individuals and a group in mind. This is what we call a cult, but they find their security in the ghetto. We can pray that God would never allow us to find ourselves in such a position.

Even So... said...

Amen, Jonathan...

You know, we do have to have some standards and all, but I am talking about those who hold to the Bible, the atoning death of Christ for our sins, and those who wouldn't deny essential doctrines such as the Trinity, etc...

I will fellowship with arminians, charismatics, fundamental baptists, church of Christ, etc...while we may not be able partner with them in a "purpose driven" campaign or KJV only rally, or laughing meeting, or something like that, we do not allow this to give us cause to call them non believers...

What we are talking about are those groups within and without the pale of orthodoxy that practice separation to the nth degree, and those whom have their own cottage industry of ministry, that no one else can access unless they are in the fold, or that none would access outside of the fold, because of the strident, superfluous, heretical things.

I guess the best way to put is those groups who take secondary doctrine and elevate them to primary doctrine status, and make this a requirement for fellowship. Notice I didn't say church membership, but fellowship. I may not believe in entire sanctification, and so I would not likely be a member of a Nazarene church, but I can certainly (and I do) fellowship with them. BTW, Nazarenes are not on this list, they are not whom I am talking about in the post...I might have cause to be a member of a Nazarene church if none other of my persuasion were around, but I would never join the types of groups I was talking about in the post...