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Guest Post by Teri Undreiner
For the last few days I've been in a few discussions where the Bible has been under fire. The discussions were on women and men, heaven and hell, baptism and not, saved, and unsaved, health and sickness, demonism and mental illness, etc. etc. etc…These were all great discussions and of course I have my own views and consider them "right". But…when it really comes down to it, no one really knows for sure.
The Bible was written in a far off land in a whole different set of circumstances and languages. We can't REALLY know if Hell is literal or symbolic because we've never been there. We can't REALLY know if women and men should have different roles in the church because we can't exactly talk to the original authors of the letters. I use to be a person who took EVERYTHING literally (except the things I didn't want to;) One of these things was healing.
When I read the Bible, Jesus seemed VERY sure that I could and should heal the sick and raise the dead. Well..He said that those who couldn't did not have faith. So…I wanted to be faithful. Hmmm, a couple people were actually healed ( or so it seemed) but still ….no dead came back to life. That made me mad cuz I gave it my ALL! My argument was, " If you told me to do it, GOD, then you have to follow through. I did my part!". And all it caused with stress and anger in me. I finally gave up trying . ( to the sadness of some friends on their deathbed. ) I couldn't take the stress anymore.
I began looking at all our favorite belief systems in the christian church. What i found is that we all have our faves that we take literally and we throw others out because we don't see them happening, thus…not literal. I recall a verse where Jesus said, " what is easier to say, They sins be forgiven you, or, rise take up your bed and walk?" It's easier to say "your sins are forgiven you", than it is to heal somebody. I think it's because we can't SEE sins being forgiven but we can SEE whether someone is healed or not.
Throughout all these controversial issues that surround us, I have come to a place in my life of realizing that we do pick and choose. Most all of us. "This is literal and this is not", depending how important we think something is to faith, to us, to OUR ministry or gender etc, to salvation, to others. This has cut me to the chase in my own life and beliefs. I realize how much I pick and choose and will defend something to the death of what I believe if I have to. But, there is something else. Some things are worth fighting for to me, except when it pulls people apart.
NOW… I know that there were divisions in the Bible and many would say that it is good to divide so that the "true" and "false" followers would be revealed. When I look at the people that I love and know in the Christian Faith…I can't say that any of them are "false". Even when I disagree with them and their belief system makes me mad. I still know that they are doing the best they can with what they know and believe. JUST LIKE ME. And to be honest, I'm not willing to judge them or LOSE them from my life. They are IMPORTANT to me. I'm ONE OF THEM and they are ONE OF ME, regardless of our differences.
That's just where I am. Some things will just have to stay UNKNOWN for sure until we get there. BUT, for right now? I got people. I'm not willing to let anyone go for the sake of differences in beliefs. I'm just being honest. AND, I'm not willing to allow strife and turmoil hinder the relationship with people I love, no matter what it is about. Beliefs come and go. Church politics come and go. But, my friends are here right now and I want to continue with them until they or I go. This has brought me to a place of peace.
I have so many different types of friends and I like it that way. My world might be easier if we all believed the same or were the same, but that wouldn't be very colorful. What i have come to is this: The world will know we are christians by the love we have for one another. NOT by any other thing. Not by what we believe about Hell and Heaven, Women and Men, health or sickness, THIS or THAT. They will know me by how I love and honor others.
So..I guess I'm becoming a MODERATE. LOL! Doing all things with moderation. I still have my STRONG beliefs that I feel very confident in, but not to the exclusion of others. I just can't do it. I want the fragrance that comes from my life to be sweet and uplifting, encouraging, and loving. I hope that I can be accepted for that, even if that is all I have to offer. In the end, when I'm dying and someone can't raise me from the dead, they can at least know how much they will miss me because of that fragrance when they were around me.
So, here is my verse for the moment: 2 Cor: 6: 3-12 " we give no offense in anything but commend ourselves as ministers of God"..and then he goes on to say OUTRAGEOUS things! Paul and Jesus offended people all the time but it wasn't intentional. In this verse I am amazed at what things he wrote down that he would not give offense in. The hardest things! I can't even imagine.
In that vein, I will probably offend people from time to time but know this: YOU are much more important to me than ANYTHING we could ever talk about or disagree about. YOU are who I love. Not pet peeves that I can't prove or disprove . It's all about YOU and it's all about Christ in ME and YOU. And to those who are reading this that do not want to be in Christ….it's all about YOU as well, for me.
It's this simple, at least for me. Life is a journey and it's like being on a Potters wheel…we aren't finished till we're finished. We are all going to look so different than we look right now. We are going to be stretched and twisted, kneaded and baked and the outcome will be beautiful in it's time. Until then….GRACE to all.