Aren’t there legitimate secondary or tertiary reasons to divide from a local church? That is essentially the first question I get asked whenever I talk about church divisions or that the Bible never calls Christians to divide. The only time it calls for division is when you’re dividing from the false teachers because the good news message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the grave is on the line. That said, Google tells me we have around 200 Christian denominations in the United States and 45,000 worldwide—surely, they can’t all be wrong?
This is a sort of rambling look-back at the last two years and an encouragement for Christians to pause and reconsider outside of their circumstances and by looking at the broader picture. This look-back begins early in 2020, when society underwent a change akin to a pressure cooker.
For those who don’t know, a pressure cooker is a sealed pot that uses pressurized steam forcing food to cook faster. It’s great because the elements in the pot are all forced to cook together to create something that is a unique blend of the different flavors. Thing is, too much pressure and the pot can cause catastrophic damage. It’s so much pressure that you have to slowly release the steam so that you can manually open the pot.
That happened to all of us in 2020.
I’ve said it before: there are multiple ways of being seduced by false teaching. With our inward bend, and enticed by the enjoyments of sin, the holiest of us can easily be lured away. It’s not just a problem for people listening to preachers. The fiercest pulpit pounder can find himself aiming to scratch the ears of an adoring audience. Thing is, I’ve long noticed a trend that I’m not sure if it’s false teaching, but it does lay a trap for the listeners that makes it possible for false teaching to come in.
Ironically, it’s in the most surprising place: preaching about the Gospel. Make sure to re-read what I just wrote.
During a seemingly bad situation, it’s hard to see the better. Seeing the better in the situation or in those around us is hard. I’m not talking about wishful thinking or silver linings. Like, when sick, thinking, “oh, I’ll get better in four days” or “at least I’m not dead!”.
Even During Tough Times, Things Are Actually Better
“Better” is a comparison word. It only works when it’s put up against something else. That’s important.
The writer to the Hebrews wrote to believers who were going through a rough patch. To fix their situation, some thought they needed to jump ship. Some stopped coming together (Hebrews 10:25). Some probably feared to suffer (Hebrews 12:4). All of them needed encouragement (Hebrews 13:22) to stand firm (Hebrews 12:12). They needed this letter where the author pits the choices against each other to show the better.
Not a better imaginable situation. Not a silver lining. Rather a re-aligning of their thinking.
In agile, there’s this thing we do at the end of a sprint (which is a period of one to four weeks) called a retrospective. We look back at the sprint and think about what went well, what could we do better, and what actionable steps are we taking to get better for the next sprint.
This article isn’t going to be about Trump, Biden, COVID, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, police brutality, implicit bias, Supreme Court justices, or a church splitting. This article isn’t going to be about how we as a nation can do better.
This is just me doing a retrospective before the next sprint. Feel free to read over my shoulder.