I was born and raised in the church, and have been in it most of my life. During that time I have met all types of people, pastors and preachers. I have come to understand that we are all very different people with completely different ways of doing things. I don’t believe for a moment there’s a problem with this. The Bible states in I Corinthians 12:14, For the body is not one member, but many. God made us different for a reason, and that reason is so every sinner could be reached where they are at. Rich, poor, young, old, smart, slow, it doesn’t matter, God brought us all into the body, as different as we are, so we could reach the lost!
Before you read on please understand I say all of this with love and not anger. I myself have stood in front of a mirror, and have been disappointed many times by the man looking back at me. I’ve read the Bible and wept as God exposed deep flaws within me, and my ways of thinking. I have begged God over and over to change me because I just couldn’t stand the man I was. I tell you this, not looking for sympathy or praise, but to try to help you understand. I just want to see change, with the goal in mind of unity, for the purpose of soul winning.
“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).
In the process of soul winning, some who are wise in their own eyes, have thought more highly of themselves than they should. They have pounded their self-righteous chests, dared to compare everyone they encounter to their own level of righteousness, and condemned the sinner to hell before they even get a chance to repent, all the while, forgetting its mercy (love) that saves the sinner. Still others, in their efforts to become soul winners, have forsaken truth under the banner of mercy, and have traded away their treasures in heaven for a basket of empty lies. We have even made our categories for these two types of people, the “Legalistic” and the “Charismatic.” Crazy thing of it is, at least these two groups are doing something about the lost, and that leaves something for God to work with!
It all begins with this scripture, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). We have to let go of the belief that “We” are the ones who are right! The Bible clearly states in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: ‘That You may be justified in Your words…’” The truly sad thing of it is, none of us really wants to admit we may be wrong in our thoughts and methods. It’s always somebody else that could benefit from becoming more like us and less like themselves. Please read carefully what Paul had to say in I Corinthians 12:25-27, “There should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”
The Story of Paul
He fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Then God put scales on his eyes so he could no longer see. (Story in Acts 9:3-8) This first part of this conversion starts with Paul doing what he thought was right, then moves into God reveling His will and instructions on how to be saved. In the mean time, God places scales on his eyes, and takes away his vision. The truly amazing part of this story is in Acts 9:17-19 when Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost, the scales fall from his eyes, and he was baptized. Have you ever asked yourself why God chose scales on his eyes? The Bible tells us why, it says in Acts 9:8, “he saw no man”! God took away his old vision, (the way he saw man without love), so that after his conversion, he would have a whole new vision (one with love, mercy, and truth)! You see, God loved Saul, and his deep desire for truth, also his willingness to stop at nothing to see it accomplished. Saul just needed it to be seasoned with love. The same man who was holding the coats of those that stoned Stephen, later said these words, “With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Ghost confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.” (Romans 9:1-3) Look at how his heart breaks for his people as he sees them lost in sin.
My goal is not to try to get the legalistic to let go of some truth, nor to make the charismatic let go of some mercy. There is no meeting in the middle, we never let go of truth, or of mercy, no matter what! We must love them both, with all our heart. Look at what Solomon says in Proverbs 3:3-4, “Never let mercy and truth leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.” If we continue to insult and despise one another, we will never truly be able to give the hurting of this world what they need, a savior with truth and love. We have so much to learn of the mercies of God.
To the Legalistic:
Why do we brag about our truth, but hold on to anger and unforgiveness toward one another? Why do we judge ourselves righteous by our works, but then forget to love those who fall short in their walk with God? Haven’t we sinned? Haven’t we broken our promises to God? Haven’t we failed? Haven’t we begged and hoped for the mercy of God after we have let Him down? Yes! Yes we have. Paul wept when he saw his people in sin, David wept when his king, his enemy, fell on a battle field. Where are our tears for the hurting in our church? Where are the hugs these people long to feel as they cry themselves to sleep at night, hearing only the lies of the enemy? Are we to going to push them away because they have failed? Are we going to ignore their cries and tell them they somehow deserve their misery? If we do, we are no better than the friends of Job that sat around a camp fire, condemning him for his words and his present state of misery.
To the Charismatic:
Are we going to turn our backs on truth, because it seems that truth is just too hard to live in this present day? Are we going to deny the very freedom that saved us, by obeying the Word, and thereby knowing God in his fullness? Would we really sell truth to buy more souls around an empty altar? How could we look a man in the eye, lie to him, and fill his mind with false hope?
If we all continue to live like this, and hold on to our religious prejudices, we will never reach the world in the way we could. WE MUST love one another!!! Peter said these words in 1Peter4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” God starts with us, he judges our love and mercy, and then goes to the sinner.
I leave you with these words to consider:
“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters. -1John 4:17-20