January 08, 2016

Persecution Card

We all know folks who will play the race card whenever they lose at something in a social or political arena. After visiting a variety of churches I’ve picked up on the fact that a few church denominations and fellowships are doing something similar when they play a persecution card. They lament that mainstream churches brand them as cults, shunned them for talking in tongues and look down on them for abandoning the traditional church. Paul pointedly reminds us that such arguments lack foundation, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:9-11 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----Maybe their persecution card isn’t exactly right, although the reasons for its issuance might be right. Complaining is worthless unless it is offered inside a resolution process. But not complaining otherwise does not make deleterious conditions go away. It tends even to bolster them. But if doing something wrong makes somebody wrong, then I offer that the mainstream churches are wrong.
-----First is the problem of branding. Paul told the Corinthians that divisions amongst them served to indicate who was genuine. But he also assures us that actual judgment is not ours to pass. In chapter 14 he tells the Romans to each be fully convinced in his own mind. He told the Corinthians that we now see dimly as in a mirror. Mirrors in those days were not like ours today. They were usually highly polished brass; they only suggested an image. So it can be expected that a lot of variation in belief will occur amongst people who can only see dimly. Where he hands the responsibility to each individual for being fully convinced in his own mind he offered examples of diametrically opposed issues which could not both be true. Yet in calling each to be fully convinced, he’s then calling one to be convinced of something wrong. What’s up with that?
-----He tells us that knowledge puffs up. It’s love that builds up (I Cor 8:1.) Love aims at doing good. The Psalms are replete with the idea of delighting in righteousness and God’s law. A desire is not digitally accurate like is a fact. It is directionally accurate. It is this directional accuracy that is important between us, because we can not be digitally accurate. God is true. All men are false (Rom 3:4.) So Paul tells the Romans to accept one another, not for arguing about what might be right or wrong, I guess since we are all false, but for building one another up by each pleasing the other (Rom 15:1-2,) I guess because we’re all false. This makes no room for branding each other. “Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God,” (Rom 15:7) yes, I guess because we are all false.
-----So then, what we do is extend this welcome to each other in our own group (ie denomination) because everyone else’s group is false. The very practice of groupyism automatically shuns everyone who is not a member of your own selected group. In telling the Corinthians that divisions amongst them made it possible to recognize who is genuine (I Cor 11:19,) exactly what process of recognition could he have meant? What is it to be genuine? Genuineness is simply being what you are. Genuineness to something is being what that something is. Paul laid out for us the root and fiber of fellowship: love and welcome, please and build up. The grouping and branding and shunning won’t happen by the genuine. So you won’t see them doing it amongst the various factions. Only the various factions will be doing it, because, well, those are the activities which make factions. The genuine are seen loving, welcoming, pleasing, and building up anyone who comes within their proximity.
-----I don’t know if there are any churches anywhere which have not become factions within the Lord’s body. Every church I have experienced is a faction of it simply by their group behavior. I have not been around the entire world visiting every church in existence. As many as there are, I would bet the farm that there is at least one which is not a faction. But I only dream of it.

Love you all,
Steve Corey