Being Right

Another famous person committed suicide this week. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, another 123 people committed suicide today…but most of us will never know because they aren’t famous. Every day in America and around the world people suffer from sickness, poverty, political oppression, and mental illness just to list a few. We live in a broken world and we see the effects of this constantly.

If you dwell on those negatives, the world can be a very depressing place. For those, like the young celebrity who killed himself, they found themselves in exactly that place. As their minds focused on the darkness within them and around them, they were overwhelmed by it until they finally broke. Darkness surrounds us every day if we choose to focus on it, and it’s still there even when we don’t. It’s inescapable.

On Facebook earlier today I scrolled past a post by a friend with very different theological views. His post was attacking another Christian because of their views, which do not align with theirs of course. Now the person being attacked is a well known television preacher with a large church.

This person has written books and made videos and has a massive media presence, so from one viewpoint they should expect to be attacked by detractors. On the other hand, I doubt anyone was seriously swayed by the critical views from this preacher’s opponent. What I have found following decades of time spent in American churches, are myriad insular groups each convinced of their own place in the universe.

There’s an old joke that goes like this:

A man arrives at the gates of heaven. St. Peter asks, Religion?

The man says, Methodist. 

St. Peter looks down his list and says, Go to Room 24, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8.

Another man arrives at the gates of heaven. Religion?


Go to Room 18, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8.

 A third man arrives at the gates. Religion?


 Go to Room 11, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8.

The man says, I can understand there being different rooms for different denominations, but why must I be quiet when I pass Room 8?

St. Peter tells him, Well, the Baptists are in Room 8, and they think theyre the only ones here.

Feel free to swap the punchline’s denomination for one of your own choosing, as the joke is ecumenical.

It’s a humorous little joke, but it exposes a deep issue in the American church. We are all so concerned about being “right” we are willing to sacrifice other Christians on our altars to appease our theological gods. When we start tossing around the term “heretic” for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to our form of orthodoxy we are treading along thin ice.

The Bible is an incredibly complex and nuanced book, and anyone who has spent serious time studying it should readily admit this fact. As I have studied it over the years, I am amazed at the wide differences of opinion among decorated scholars over fundamental issues of theology and interpretation. We cannot ignore this. We cannot pretend like our little group, or big one, has the market cornered on theology and simply dismiss everyone else out of hand and label them all heretics.

We are all human and all of our interpretations carry some measure of error no matter how many letters follow our name. As we interact with others, especially those who profess Christ as Lord, we would be wise to remember this. Recall the story of Jesus restoring Peter and then noticing John was following them. Peter was irked that John was eavesdropping and indignantly pointed to John and (I imagine this line in an accusatory tone) says, “Jesus, what about HIM?!?”

Jesus’s response should be enough for each of us, and it should cut us to the quick and remind us of our proper place in things. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow ME.” The Word goes on to say that a rumor started because of what Jesus said to Peter. Since the scripture only says that John, Peter, and Jesus were present when He made this statement, one wonders which of the three started the rumors…I have a guess.

Orthodoxy is a necessary part of our lives. Everyone lives with some form of orthodox belief system, even if they are not Christian. Humans require boundary lines and we invent them for ourselves if we reject those God has designed. However, our theological views should not lead us to degrade others even if the other person is wrong.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned suicide and pain and the darkness surrounding us all. When we follow Jesus we become light-bearers, the only beings on earth capable of dispersing the darkness and replacing it with beauty and goodness. By focusing on “being right” we are covering our light with a basket, becoming those who are more concerned about attacking those who disagree with us rather than shining into the darkness.

Should we, and will we have orthodoxy in our beliefs? Absolutely. But can we be kind to others even when we disagree with them? Without a doubt.

If Christians spent a little less time hammering away at each other and a little more time focused on the fruit of the Spirit, those things that actually matter, we might dispel even more darkness than we ever thought possible.

Just remember that some of what you believe isn’t true. You do not have all the answers. You do not understand everything in the Bible. No human does, has, or ever will. God’s revelation is accessible but never fully comprehensible because His full revelation is greater than humanity…and that’s how it should be.

See, He designed us so that we could each carry a portion of Him but never all of Him. Because of this design, we require Jesus and each other. God created humanity to live in community with one another and with Him. We are designed to live as a family.

So the next time you see someone bashing another person because of their views, move along. Find those who will be respectful of others and their beliefs. Connect with those who desire to live a life of love and kindness first and put orthodoxy second. Live within God’s defined boundaries, but do so in a way that spreads light rather than accusations.

Above all things, seek Jesus first and His Kingdom and then everything else will flow into your life. He tells us what the results of life with Him entail: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

One Voice

One of the issues in our modern political system is the lack of dialogue between opposing sides. Those in the conservative, Fox News camp tend to be dismissive of anything from the liberal, CNN camp and vice versa. Lots of people are talking but very few are listening. Modern church life has developed the same issue.

As one who is an explorer seeking out truth in its many forms, my primary focus is on Jesus and this makes me a free agent of sorts. In other words, I’m not firmly tied to any denominational or theological camp. However, I was for many years. While living life in the “bubble” I was warned away from certain things while being firmly pushed toward others.

For example, when I was in traditional church I was told to avoid certain teachers like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer or basically anything on TBN. When I ventured into the charismatic world they were less focused on who I shouldn’t listen to and more focused on who I should. So the same process was happening but in a less obvious way. My brief flirtation with Calvinism produced even stronger results as the Calvinists tend to demonize anyone who does not fit their theological framework.

So, generally speaking, what we find in the average church of any kind is an acceptance of certain viewpoints and dismissal of others. While we should help newcomers to Jesus find their way, the Word does not teach us to create clones it teaches us to create disciples. We cannot do this if our attitude toward other truth-carriers is dismissive and arrogant.

Our litmus test for acceptance should be based on Jesus Christ alone. If a teacher is submitted to Christ and demonstrates the fruit of a Christ centered life (i.e., love, joy, peace, patience, and so on) then we should not dismiss them outright. There should be room at the theological table for differing views and varying interpretations. To put it another way, only one person in human history walked in complete revelation of truth and that person isn’t me or you.

So why do so many walk around like they have the market cornered on theological accuracy? Because that’s what we’ve allowed to occur. Going back to the Reformation we find the beginning of this concept. Calvin was so convinced of his position that he formed a political system around his ideas and essentially took over Geneva even going so far as to burn “heretics” at the stake. French Huguenots were forced out of their homeland by opposing Christians. Puritans were forced out of England, and the list goes on.

These ideas of “rightness” are firmly entrenched in modern Christian thinking. People either float around until they find the “right” group or they stick with the group they grew up with. Either way, most folks will never consider an alternative view on anything because they won’t bother to listen to anything outside their own bubble. This should not be.

We need to stop attacking one another and dismissing revelation others have received. No one man or woman carries within them the complete revelation of Christ because we are incapable of carrying something of such magnitude. Indeed, Christ Himself does not desire this because He wants us to function as a body, united together to carry His truth forward. We require one another to expose revelation as we have received it, and to correct error within one another.

We are quick to point out the perceived errors in others but loathe to listen to potential truth. Even those who are not followers of Christ may carry some measure of truth within them because they have been, however unwittingly, exposed to God’s truth by simply existing in His creation. So we need to stop being so arrogant, pretending we have it all figured out because we do not. All of us have questions about things. All of us are missing pieces of the full revelation of Jesus Christ…and we always will be.

To carry the full revelation of Christ would make us equal to Christ Himself and this will never be. We will spend eternity continually growing in revelation and truth because God’s truth and revelation is unending. That should be our focus and goal even today. We should expect to walk daily in ever increasing revelation.

But here’s the thing, ever increasing revelation means some old things we believed will change to more closely match God’s truth. So it is not just about learning new things, it’s also about replacing the old or updating the old as new things are given to us. When we walk with an openness, ready to receive from Holy Spirit whatever He chooses to teach us, then we will learn from all creation as we follow Christ. This is how we should live.

As we walk we must learn to hear one voice, the voice of God. His voice may speak to us through believers, unbelievers, the Word, creation, art, books, music, etc. God is not limited in how He can communicate with us. Throughout the Bible He used multiple methods to communicate including dreams, visions, and even personal visitations through angels or in human form. He still speaks in many ways today.

We have the Word of God to verify truth claims and to clarify the revelations we receive, but we cannot be so tied to a single interpretation of the Word that we fail to recognize truth outside of our bubble. To put it another way, I fully expect to meet both John Macarthur and Bill Johnson in heaven. Those in either camp may shudder at that thought, but both men demonstrate a firm reliance on their view of Jesus Christ to help and disciple others. We are the ones who have judged them.

Let us learn to walk in ever increasing revelation of Christ as He carries us from glory to glory. Let us not be so closed off to truth that we fail to recognize it when it comes from alternative voices. Let us find Jesus in every place He wants to reveal Himself. We can only do this if we are actively seeking Him and His truth.

Meditate on this word today and ask Jesus where your thinking still needs to be shaped to be more like Him. Ask Him where you’ve been dismissive of other believers and where you can grow in truth.


Alignment with God

In the beginning God created mankind to dwell with Him on earth. We were made to live in daily relationship with God and His creation. Our free will was meant to align with God’s will so we would live in harmony with all things. This is alignment with God.

James 4:1–8 says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you. 

Alignment with God is submission to God. Being aligned with God means we have surrendered our free will to Him so we can reflect His attributes in our daily lives. When we are in proper alignment our desires will be righteous because they will come from God, and we can ask God for fulfillment because we are properly aligned.


James says that our desires battle within us and we reach out to get what we want. When we do, we enter into conflict with others because their desires are at cross purposes with our own. Selfish striving always leads to disharmony, anger, and chaos. When our desires are directed by our relationship with the world we cannot live in peace. This is why we must align ourselves with God.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our desires are not necessarily evil. In fact, many of our desires were placed within us by God because they are tied to our purpose and destiny. The key is our relationship with Jesus. If we are in alignment with Christ, in relationship with Him, we will be given the desires of our heart because our heart will be shaped like His.


James continues and tells us we do not receive what we desire because we ask with wrong, selfish motives. When we are influenced primarily by the world, when we are “friends with the world” as James says, we will be driven by selfish motives. Proud people will live in disharmony and chaos because of their proud motives. God opposes the proud.

But He gives grace to the humble. Humility is required to be in alignment with God. We must understand that humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less as C.S. Lewis said. God lifts up the humble because they recognize their place in the universe and God’s ultimate authority. When we are properly aligned with God our motivations will be righteous because we will reflect His heart.


Submission is key, but we have responsibilities as believers. We submit to God but we must also resist the devil. We also must ask God for our desires. James says we do not have because we do not ask. It is not enough to simply accept God, we are responsible to walk in the new life we have been given.

As we come into alignment with God we will begin to change. Some changes will be more radical than others, but we will change. My former pastor was fond of saying, “Change is change until it’s change.” God will bring change to us as we align with Him, but we are responsible for carrying out that change and implementing it in our daily lives.


How do we align ourselves with God? Verse eight provides the answer, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Prayer, meditation, and study will bring us near to God and then God will come near to us. This process aligns us with Him and brings His thoughts into our minds and spirits so we can be like Him.

Spend time with God in prayer. Meditate on Him and His Word. Study the Bible and learn what it teaches us. Let Holy Spirit guide your life and you will come into alignment with Jesus. When you do, the desires of your heart with be His and you will discover peace and harmony.