- I am far from perfect. I fear a lot of things; most realistic, yet all irrational because the only thing I should truly fear is God. I find myself fearing the little things and being afraid of God. I fall every day: I have cursed, I have judged, I have neglected to do God's Will, I have put my foot in my mouth countless times and I have given up. It is obvious that I cannot live life on my own. It is utterly impossible. I am dependent. I am needy. I am selfish. I am sinful. I am human.. However, the most important thing about me; I am forgiven.
I have noticed -as I am sure many others have before me- that there is a internal continuous argument between denominations when it comes to who is right and who is wrong.
Let me first state that I am a Christ-follower and do not consider myself in a "religion" but a relationship; I am saved by grace and not by my own works (Ephesians 2:8). So please forgive me if I confuse you with how I word what I am trying to say. I don't mean to offend anyone, I am just spitting out my thoughts and letting the Holy Spirit speak through me. So lets get started.
I have a question that has been put on my heart and spirit lately: How can we show God's love when we are constantly bickering with each other about who is right and why would they - believers and nonbelievers- want a part of this truth, hope, and new life that we say we have, when they hear our hopeful words but all they see is the constant fighting and division?
I know I wouldn't.
I have been thinking a lot lately -praying and researching too- (mainly) about the differences between Catholics and Protestants (the differences between the interpretations of the Bible between the two groups). I haven't looked into the every single belief in Catholicism but just the main differences... so please forgive me if I am offensive, vague and sketchy on my facts; but I'm just gonna jump right on it and begin with what God has put on my heart and pray that what I am saying is what God needs me to say and nothing more.
My best friend is Catholic and I am considered a "bible christian" Protestant. My best friend is a type 'A' kind of person; a go getter, very opinionated, and loves God very strongly. I am a type 'B' kind of person; laid back, shy, quiet; I have opinions but I am not very verbal because I am afraid I will offend someone and I love God very deeply. So when we first met - I was eleven and she was thirteen - we didn't click all too well. We were opposites; still are. But were both interested in what each other believed about God, only we didn't really know what it was like- or how- to discus our beliefs without arguing. So we basically tossed each others thoughts and opinions and church taught beliefs, down each others throat and then ignored the differences between us after realizing it wasn't going anywhere with fighting. Now, I am sixteen and she is eighteen; we are stronger in our relationship with each other and with Christ and a little more instructed on our different beliefs. I have personally studied the main differences between Catholicism and Protestantism: Eucharist, Purgatory, the pope, the and Church.
Since I was grown up in a Church of God, I was taught to research the Bible on my own; so I've realized that a relationship with Christ is two way (as are all relationships); "basically"... on our part, we pray, worship, and and strive daily to be more Christlike; on His part, He guides and moulds us to be more like Him by giving us opportunities to change and speaking to us through His word, the Bible. So, as I have grown more in my relationship with Christ... it is very hard for me to see a lot of Catholics (and Protestants) just go with the flow and follow the motions "because that is what we have always done". Not all mind you, some got it right and know it's a relationship. But many are stuck in the ritual of living 'rightly' by the Church's standards instead of Christ's.
I am not trying to isolate Catholics and say that they are confused and ignoring God and Protestants are on a high and mighty pedestal. I know that there are many Protestants and Catholics who are confused that because they are mixed up in follow tradition rather than God. I am just thankful that Christ has set me free to follow Him; fully and wholly... even though I mess up; and I am trying (with Christ guiding me) to give an example to others -believers and nonbelievers- what is is truly like to have Christ lead my life.
Anyway, my best friend and I have decided to have our own little Bible study to understand God more fully and bring Him in our relationship; together and separately; (I am still a complete and unashamed Bible christian and she is a complete and unashamed Catholic) but it is still difficult studying the Bible together because we interpret it differently. I try and let the Holy Spirit show me the truth while she does the same... but she also tries to logic the Bible out herself; which you can't really do. It just doesn't make sense. God has to show you the truth and you have to open you heart to understand Him. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.
So, at first... when we kept having these conversations I'm thinking, "What's the point? I know what I believe, why should I search out the Catholic belief to confirm that?". I soon realized that I was being rash and immature and if I am called to ministry/mission (which I want to mission), I need to be able to tell why I believe the Bible, and why I don't believe what they believe (to Catholics). So, God convicted me of that and I started looking for things out on my own. I am convinced (by the Holy Spirit), that I am true in saying that I am right with God. I am not going to be saying Catholics are wrong in believing the things they do because I don't want to judge them unless God tells me otherwise, but I know that what I believe about God is true... because I let Him show me who He is to my face (in a spiritual sense).
As I allowed (though a little stubbornly at some points, too) God to change my heart, and I accepted that Catholics could be right in what they believe... God showed me that 'human' words and doctrines are going to be wrong if they don't let the Holy Spirit interpret it for them (in each person). And in studying what I know about Catholicism against my personal knowledge of the Bible (with the Holy Spirit guiding me) I learned that we humans take what we want to believe out of the Bible and say it to be the truth, and then say that we are taking the Bible as a whole. That is why there are so many denominations. I've personally done that. I still do it even though I try not to.
The thing is.. God wants us to be whole (Romans 12:4-5, Eph 4:4, 1 Cor 12:12). I was listening to Casting Crowns, We Are The Body, and it struck me; if WE are the body -Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, Bible Christians, Baptists, Nondenominational- all together; why are we fighting among each other! Why are we saying one thing to nonbelievers and then turning around and arguing about who is right in the interpretation of the Bible! They are confused and lost as it is... We are not showing the love God wants us to show by fighting each other internally and not cooperating with Jesus. WHEN and only when we let the Holy spirit interpret the Bible for us... HE will give us the truth. WE just have to be willing to set aside our petty human lifestyle and go for a much more holy, much more fruitful lifestyle, and allow the Holy Spirit to tell us the truth.
There is a way to let go of our grudges and (too)long lasted fights... and that is to let God take it out of our mind and hearts and to serve Him -fully, everywhere, together, and for His glory. But we first have to be willing.
God has really put this on my heart lately... that we need to shut up among each other and allow God to work through us, because when we don't, how will anyone else come to know Christ! We have to be the light among this dark, cold, sin-filled world and show others Him... how can we do that when we think only one of us is right? God will give us the truth only if we open our stubborn minds, spirits, and hearts to let Him!
Sometimes I don't even know if what I am saying will hit anyone like it has hit me. I know many people before me have come to the same conclusion I have. But this repetitive thought that I keep having that "We can make a difference... that I can make a difference"... but I honestly don't know where- or how- to start. I haven't personally heard any stories from my close friends or any new testimonies of all of us coming together (the Body; all other denominations) to work for His glory. We are just trying to convert each other from the 'half truth' or 'confused interpretations' when we should be encouraging each other to grow personally in Christ and to show others who He IS and what He did! It makes me extremely sad to think that we are more concerned about who is right when we should be bringing others to Him.
Throughout my study with my best friend, I have given Bible verses to show why I believe what I believe and why I am not Catholic and I know she doesn't understand why I am a 'Bible Christian'; because that is what she asked of me. I am not trying to convert her- or any Catholic. I am just praying and wanting God to show her -and anyone else who is willing to listen- the truth; that it is more than tradition and that it is all about a relationship with Him. Not religion. I know that when I am wrong in anything I believe, I trust that God will correct me and I will believe Him. Because He IS (Exodus 3:14).
All this really is is God speaking to my spirit, my heart... and me, writing my thoughts down. I will continue to be a light to believers and nonbelievers by shutting up and trying daily to be the Body God called me to be... because I know people are turned off by seeing us argue so much. Kind of like that commercial when the mother and daughter are arguing... but their words are really nice (e.g. "I LOVE YOU" being said loudly in a mean voice.) And if you put that commercial on silent.. it looks like they are only mean.
WE (the Body) are like that commercial; we are arguing with each other, nicely and meanly, but the world is only seeing us from a distance. So we look like we are being just mean because they cannot hear us. And when we do tell them who we follow... they don't see a difference in our attitudes. That just shows that the statement "actions speak louder than words" is true (for the negative sense as well).
Jesus paid much to high a price for us to act like this. Its a hard walk, but with Jesus, we should be gladly leaving our argumentative ways behind and be encouraging each other to follow Christ and His Word instead of trying to prove who is right and who is wrong. I don't want to prove anyone right or wrong unless God tells me to. I just want to show others who He is... but it won't help diddly-squat if we are arguing amongst ourself. (Phillippians 2:14, Do Everything without arguing or complaining.)
I pray that God is using me to do something big and I know that only He can fix this; only we, the Body, have to be willing to shut up and be who He called us to be.
Throughout my study of the Bible, I have come across many verses about Jesus. The main things that Jesus did for us are these:
1. He was born sinless.
2. He grew up and ministered about His Father (God).
3. He died for our sins.
4. He conquered death so we can have life.
5. He ascended into heaven as the Right Hand of God to intercede for us.
But that is not all.
He didn't defeat death just so we could be saved. He didn't live a sinless life just because He wanted to. He didn't die that way just so we could have eternal life with Him.
He did all that and more... because He loves us and wants to know us intimately. As a best friend. As sons and daughters. As servant and master. As Savior and sinner. As God and people. A simple fact we tend to forget about His birth, death, and resurrection.
So I try and remember more often that He died because He wants to know me. To be my friend. To be the person who I could always go to. To love me. To care for me. To pray for me. To be with me in everything I do. He is truly my best friend. And realizing that Jesus' death wasn't just to save me... but to get to know me and for me to get to know Him, makes me want to know Him more because who - a human- do you know, would do all that for you and everyone else on the planet?
Yeah. Don't you just love Jesus now?