Rooted in Doctrine, Loving in Christ

The other week I posted:

There is a pendulum swing in Christianity. For so long, the church has focused solely on words. Following Jesus, in this paradigm, was a belief statement to be believed. If you believe that Jesus is Christ, the son of the living God, repent and are baptized, then you are saved. So evangelism naturally focused on getting people to believe the right things in their head. Salvation, in that world, comes through having the proper beliefs and doctrine combined with a few religious practices, not through having a transformed life of love. A good evangelist would present the gospel to people through sharing it and asking them if they accept it. It was about bringing them to a decision point. And if they accepted the belief statement proposed, we would baptize them. As a follower of Jesus, if you weren’t presenting it in such a way as to make the person come to a point of decision, then evangelism was not effective...
...Now, we are seeing a shift to not using words but just being loving. This is just as much of an error as the previous error. It’s the pendulum swinging back and forth. In this model, people just do loving actions with no intention of sharing the gospel because what people believe is fine for each person. We should not meddle in people’s beliefs.  

Since posting that, I have noticed a disturbing trend to grab theology from everywhere.  It might come from a movie that was watched, a song listened to, but I've noticed that it is not coming from Scripture.  I am not seeing people encounter God through the ancient, tried and true, method of Bible study and meditation on God's word.  God does work on us through every experience, but without a foundation of Scripture to filter those experiences through, we will come to any conclusion and go anywhere with our theology.  Scripture should be the filter we strain our experiences through to understand God.  

Paul warned, "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV).

Aria at the ocean.  I'm in the background with Lyla.
An infant is tossed every which way by the waves.  When we were at the ocean for vacaton, Aria, our four year old, and Lyla, our two year old, would just get knocked down by the waves.  That's what waves do to little children.  But we need to be different.  We need to speak the truth in love and grow in Christ.  That does not mean that the temptation to stray won't be there.  Even once in a while, a wave would come that would knock me off balance.  But it does mean that we will be more stable.  

For many, the Bible and proper doctrine is like a drug.  It becomes its own purpose rather than purpose it was designed for.  The great heresy of right doctrine only is dealt with right before this section.  Paul wrote: "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV).

The purpose of the ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, prophets, and teachers is to get us ready to serve, not to prepare us to beat people in a Bible trivia contest or knock them out in some verbal abusive evangelism.  When we are studying Scripture, we are being taught by a Master Craftsman how to be craftsmen ourselves, not to just sit around and talk about the tools of the trade; we are learning to continue the work of the craftsman.  We're in the service business.  That work is much more than just teaching doctrine, but it is also rooted in doctrine.  

Recognizing that God is speaking through us everywhere through every experience is great.  It keeps our eyes open to seeing His work around us and how we can get involved in it.  But if our day and our lives are not rooted in Scripture, then we can be manipulated and deceived by the many marketing sirens of this culture; sirens who do not have the same purpose as Jesus for our lives; sirens that will deceive, destroy, and lead us to emptiness.  They are trying to get us to buy into something else rather than God.  Let's not sell Him out so cheaply.  Let's not confuse a good movie or a good song with the voice of God.