Making disciples or casting doubts?
Maybe I missed something along the way but I honestly thought making disciples involved helping people replace the doubt in their lives with the promise and hopeful certainty of faith. Lately there seems to have been a shift from the faith building role of spiritual leaders to one of raising questions and casting doubt on the mysteries of orthodox Christianity. Airing our peeves, personal biases, and pet projects on social media places a great deal of spiritual minutia and uncertainty in a public venue that often injects confusion and doubt among believers and non-believers alike. A couple of fresh examples examples may illustrate my point---
Theological positions about the doctrine of the Trinity have been debated openly over the past few month. I've read much of the material and pretty much decided that some great thinkers have too much time on their hands. The Trinity is one of the mysteries of faith I decided I could not completely grasp but would accept in faith as a pivotal tenet of biblical belief. Theological reflection is surely a strong spiritual discipline and has a place in our disciple making mission. Perhaps the classroom or society meetings would be a more fitting venue for arguing the points of new theological thought. Some of us are thankful for elements of faith that require trust in our all-knowing God.
A magazine article recently hinted that all of our patriotic Independence Day worship was an idolatry that shifted our focus from submission to Christ. Give me a break holy ones. Love for my country can be on my priority list and giving thanks to God for the establishment of this nation isn't idol worship. The nation is one of the four concentric circles I've drawn around my house (see Acts 1:8). Making disciples in it is central. Preserving the freedom to do so is also.
Praying the promises
One writer reminded us all that 2 Chronicles 7:14 was a promise God made to Israel and not America, hinting that it is inappropriate for us to claim that promise for our own nation. The article went on to say that applying the promises God made to Israel to any other situation is akin to the health/wealth people misusing Scripture for personal gain. One dear old couple told me they had prayed 2 Chronicles 7:14 every Fourth of July for 65 years but their pastor told them that made them part of the name it/claim it crowd. Good grief. I prayed that verse myself this year too.
Talk about confusion. Read the extremes among evangelicals regarding the 2016 Presidential Election. All the camps are visible in every social media outlet and many of our local church members don't know who to believe or where to seek counsel about these important decisions.. Once again, I try to read most of this blather and I'm getting a lot of preferences, a good bit of Scripture misapplication but little admonition and instruction about prayer and seeking God in the process. The dilemmas of election 2016 are real enough. Let's pray and live Romans 13:1-7 as we bring light to this darkness.
A good many people foam at the mouth when headlines announce church trouble or the rigors of spiritual leadership. There's a tendency to gravitate to to the extremes in
this regard, being overly critical and self-righteous on the one hand, and resonating too intimately on the other. When churches struggle or spiritual leaders fall uncertainty is thrust to center stage. Yes, these are difficult times. And, yes, we are all sinners saved by grace. Still, throwing stones or airing our personal battles can raise huge questions for believers and unbelievers. The world has plenty of questions. Our role in making disciples of this nation is to provide answers.
In his theological discussion about glossolalia Paul mentions the confusion created by the tongues controversy. For me, his words "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33) is a binding spiritual truth in all matters. Certainly he doesn't intend for us to be vessels of doubt. We're to speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15) and season our conversation and lives with grace (see Colossians 4:6).
Let's be intent about disciple making in these times, and not casting doubts.