About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
A Biblical based
indignation rose from deep within when I heard her say that.
What made it worse was her husband, our soon to be pastor, just sat
in silence. Although it didn't
work, to avoid a conflict I bit my tongue and tried to keep the peace.
What was intended to be a friendly, let's get to know each other
Sunday lunch, turned into an uncomfortable conflict.
Both by my nature and my
Biblical conviction (Romans 14:19) I attempt to live in peace with
everyone. I really don't like
conflict, but when our soon to be pastor's wife expressed the sentiment of
our day, I felt compelled to react. "Doctrine
isn't practical," she said. "Just
preach the practicalities of our faith.
We've had enough of doctrine."
Our present western world
Christianity's disdain for doctrine is one reason why many of us neglect
what I call the "thinking person's" book of Romans.
Besides our disdain for doctrine, we've adopted our culture's
dumbed down mentality to seriously think issues through to their logical
conclusions. If we actually do
open the pages of Romans we often skip to chapter 12 thinking the previous
chapters are doctrinal while the remaining chapters are practical.
"You cannot divorce
the practical from the doctrinal", I told her.
"Understanding doctrine is practical."
She interjected with her objections and of course I was unable to
bite my tongue sufficiently enough to avoid responding.
The fact is that Romans
12:1 begins with the words, "Therefore, I urge you."
That implies whatever Paul is about to urge is predicated on our
understanding the doctrinal issues he taught in the previous 11 chapters.
The first practicality
Paul urges is for us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.
In light of God's mercy he says that's our only reasonable response
to God. To even begin to
understand the full measure and implications of God's mercy you must
return to Romans 1, verse 1, and work your way forward to chapter 12 and
beyond. Only then can you
begin to understand God's mercy sufficiently enough to offer your bodies
as a living sacrifice.
"It's impossible to
live your faith if you don't understand your faith," I added.
"Many of us can't ever define Biblical faith, let alone live
it, so ..."
Without allowing me to
finish, she dogmatically interjected. "I've
had enough doctrine jammed down my throat."
That one was tough to
resist. "You use the word
doctrine as if it's a disgusting word.
The word doctrine simply means teaching.
If you ignore Biblical teaching you ignore everything Jesus
taught," I said in frustration. "In
fact when you push Biblical doctrine aside, you push Jesus aside."
That didn't go over well.
She wouldn't budge.
I was getting nowhere fast and feeling bad that what was to be a
friendly lunch was turning into an uncomfortable conflict.
To avoid a blistered tongue and escalating the conflict, I just
changed the subject.
If we claim to take Jesus seriously we'll attempt to understand everything He and His Word teaches us. We may struggle in our pursuit of understanding, but we won't give up because we realize that there is no outworking of our faith without understanding our faith.
At the onset of what
people call the practical part of Romans Paul maintained that the way we
are transformed into the image of Christ, which our soon to be pastor's
wife would have called a practicality, comes through the renewing of our
minds (Romans 12:4). Our minds
are renewed when we first know the Scriptural stance and then understand
it. Only then are the
practical implications of our faith worked out in our lives.
How we think determines how we live. If
you think Bible you'll live Bible. If
you think no Bible you'll live as you want.
I felt bad when our
guests left our home. I enjoy
a friendly debate but when it gets hostile I don't enjoy that.
Although I like keeping the peace, I admit there are some issues I
cannot and will not let slide. I
speak what I believe to be the truth in as peaceful a way as possible and
let the chips fall where they may.
She never did become our
pastor's wife. We soon learned
that our soon to be pastor was attempting a sexual affair with a teenage
daughter of a couple within his church.
How one thinks really does determine how one lives.
How a Christian lives is determined by how he approaches the Bible.
Disdain for Biblical doctrine will eventually destroy your faith in
Jesus. "My people are
destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6)."