The movie, God’s Not Dead 2, made me think, which is something I value highly in a piece of entertainment. So perhaps you all will forgive another meditation sparked by the movie.
As we talked over the film after viewing it, my sister said, “One thing I find unrealistic is how much support the main character got from other Christians.”
Unfortunately, I think she has a point. If we knew of a brother or sister in Christ who was on trial for a faith-related situation, would we go out and hold up signs? Would we go to their door to offer what little encouragement we could? Would we kneel for even fifteen minutes to lift their predicament before the Lord God?
Well, would we? Likely as not, we wouldn’t.
We get so petty in Christianity. Just because that person doesn’t share the exact same doctrine, we refuse to support them or their ministry. Take the movie itself, God’s Not Dead 2. There are quite a few Christians who tear the movie to shreds for one reason or another. And sure, maybe some of their objections are valid. I could complain about one thing right this minute.
But I won’t.
Because we can be such Pharisees. We find a subject where the Lord convicts us, and we mock others who have yet to be convicted in the same area. We cling for dear life to our traditions, scorning others, when maybe we have it right, and maybe they have it right.
Yes, holy living is important. Yes, we should display excellence in all we do, that God may receive glory. Yes, correct doctrine is important. Yes, the little details matter to God.
But what did Jesus tell the Pharisees?
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
-Matthew 23:23 (NKJV)
The Pharisees got all the little stuff right, and Jesus said they ought not to leave them undone. But Jesus scolded them for skipping the more important matters.
Justice. Mercy. Faith.
If you and I both believe that Jesus alone, the only Son of God, is the way to salvation, then we can work together for Christ. I understand that there are certain false doctrines which may exclude someone from unity with God’s people, but those are big things. Most of the stuff we quibble about isn’t as big as we think it is.
- If that person believes in infant baptism and you don’t, it doesn’t automatically mean you aren’t both followers of Christ.
- If you believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and that person doesn’t, that doesn’t preclude you from working together.
- If that person believes women should wear dresses and head-coverings and you don’t, you can still team up to win souls for Christ.
- If a brother believes in Gap-Theory Creation and you’re a literal six-day-week believer, well, I think the Gap Theory is dangerous. But it doesn’t mean that person is lost.
- And if that person expects a pre-Tribulation rapture and you expect post-Trib, that doesn’t mean one of you is unsaved.
We get things mixed up. What matters is that all have sinned and deserve Hell (justice), but Jesus has come to deliver us from both sin’s punishment and sin’s power while we live (mercy). And all we have to do is take God at His Word and rely on Him (faith).
If we go around neglecting the things God calls important, then we can just hush about the littler things.
(Pause while I recover from the slap that sentence gave me.)
Jesus said that our good works ought to push people to glorify our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:16). But it is something else that identifies us as Jesus’ disciples.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
-John 13:35 (NKJV)
Love for one another.
Not good works, although we should do them. Not our words, although they should be both gracious and true. Not specifically love for the lost, although we should have that.
But love for one another brands us as belonging to Jesus.
So a Christian film doesn’t meet your expectations. I understand your concerns–believe me, I have many of my own, and I may voice them gently. But what’s the point of slandering the movie makers ruthlessly on the Internet? What does it accomplish other than making Christians look like back-stabbers? (After all, non-Christians can’t understand our detailed differences.)
If a brother differs from you in his doctrine, but he still believes Jesus is the only way, why not join him in his outreach ministry? He’s trying to save souls! Can you not at least support him in prayer?
If a brother is struggling or suffering, why can’t you support him with your words, prayers, and actions? Even if he differs with you on some point in the Bible.
I think our quarrels must grieve Jesus almost as much as the lost souls who enter eternity every day. After all, He prayed for us to be united.
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
-John 17:20-21 (NKJV)
“That they may be one in Us.”
“That the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Brothers and sisters, our divisive behavior discredits the Gospel of Christ.
How can we do such a thing? How can we refuse to set aside our differences when they hinder the very message we want to spread? How can we be so self-centered?
How can I be so thoughtless?