It seems to me that Jesus has a soft spot for the underdogs, the rejected, those cast out or oppressed, and so on. It seems to me that Jesus stands by those who meekly and humbly follow him, those who love righteousness, those who show love and mercy towards others. It seems to me that Jesus stands by those who are willing to stand by Him—even if it means being hated.
Although as Christians, we are all striving and we all have room to grow, I think it’s good for us to stop and evaluate ourselves from time to time.
Are we hating our brethren and casting them out over petty matters of disagreement—or worse yet—are we doing so because they stand by Jesus and try to re-focus us towards what it means to honor “his name’s sake?”
I understand that when it comes to denominations at least, there is a lot of pressure to conform. There is very little room to be a “new wine skin” when you’re so stiffened by tradition. It can be painful and even impossible to hear what your brethren are trying to communicate with you.
There was a time when I could not hear anyone that disagreed with me. There was a time when I was convinced that most of Christianity was fake. One of the biggest reasons was the immense division among Christianity.
This division was also one of the main reasons I called out to the Lord a few years ago. I wanted answers. I wanted somewhere I could turn to find some measure of peace in a Christian world that seemed utterly confused and segregated. The Lord answered, and He led me to an underdog, someone rejected, someone cast out by his brethren, someone who stood against oppression brought by legalism and dangerous teaching.
We should be careful in how we judge people. We should be careful in casting people out because they believe in a different doctrine than we do. We should be careful in fueling division for the sake of loyalty to a denomination. In so doing, we could be rejecting the Lord—because when we reject someone who comes in Jesus name and is not doing so falsely, we reject Him.
On the other hand, many come in Jesus name—and many are liars. So, it is with much emphasis that I want to encourage us to seek Jesus above all things. Man is fallible, even the best of us.
Seek Jesus above your own wisdom. Don’t be “wise in your own eyes and prudent in your own sight.” Seek Jesus above the “strong drink” of tantalizing teachings that whisper vanities and worldliness as acceptable to God—”justifying the wicked” and “taking away the righteousness of the righteous from them.” (See Isaiah 5 for reference).
Seek loyalty to Jesus above loyalty to your “kings” aka denominations and pastoral leaders.
Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit of Truth who rebukes petty divisions and strife among the brethren, leading us to what it means to love as God loves, not as man loves: selfishly, deceitfully, fleetingly, prejudicially, and falsely.
It’s so easy to become afraid of ideas that oppose our own, especially if our world-view is being shaken. We have got to learn to understand where people are coming from, especially within the household of the Christian faith. If we close our eyes and ears to what our brethren have to say, if we hate them, if we cast them out, then we are missing out and we will never be one as the Lord Jesus and the Father are one.
One of the last things Jesus prayed before the crucifixion was this:
“And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that the may be perfect in one: and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:20-23).”
I propose that we should honor this. The various denominations will stand for as long as the Lord allows, yet, that does not mean that as individuals we should neglect to do the right thing. We should lay aside petty divisions and hatreds over doctrine, because the fact is, we don’t know it all. It is okay to disagree. It is good to come together and share interpretations and ideas. It is good to be one body in Christ, building each other up into the image of Christ.
Didn’t Jesus say that a house divided against itself will not stand?