Or even promoting disunity?
Are you guilty of bashing or criticizing or speaking against another believer or worse yet, against a pastor or teacher or another church body? We are one in Christ, right? Or, we are supposed to be one in Christ.
Predominately, what I am referring to is the careless, reckless, and critical (nitpicky), accusations of others who are clearly trying to follow Christ, and especially Pastors and churches that are doing the good works of the Kingdom.
Unity within the body of Christ is God’s idea, and so shouldn’t it be our desire too?
When we see something we disagree with, don’t understand, or perhaps just don’t like from another believer, leader, Pastor, church, etc., shouldn’t our first response be to pray, and then, secondly, refer to what scripture says about the behavior or situation? If we are told to pray for and bless our enemies, the least we can do is pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, right?
What about encouraging one another and building each other up? Building up or bashing? Which one are you doing?
It’s interesting that when we are listening and sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we will find that He is speaking the same thing to the body of Christ. Recently, the Lord laid heavily on my heart the thoughts for the title of my original blog posted below (Building up or bashing, which one are you doing?) regarding those who are actually working against unity within the body of Christ (even though they may not realize that this is what they are doing, and not only that, but also bringing judgment on themselves by doing so). How? Through speaking against other churches and brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, we are promoting disunity and acting in “judgment” of others. This is one of the top 10 on my list of “Things that bother and baffle me!” (another post on this blog). Then, today (for the second time), I was blessed to see Beth Moore joining with Joyce Meyer on her program discussing this same issue (which was a confirmation for me to take the time to finally complete this blog post). I love, appreciate, and honor both of these sisters in Christ, who are anointed teachers and gifts to the body of Christ. The more I have listened to their testimonies, I have become more aware of what I have in common with both of them personally and similar marital experiences as well (as do numerous other women too, – hence, their relatability to the masses). My husband (David) and I support the ministry of Joyce Meyer, including regularly listening to or watching her teaching programs. We have read many of her books and have shared them with others, especially her bestselling book Battlefield of the Mind. We are both thankful for the ministry of Joyce Meyer, and I think “Mama Joyce” is one of the most balanced Bible Teachers around. We were so blessed last spring to attend her conference here in Birmingham. I am proud to say how much I love Joyce Meyer and how God has used her in so many ways in my life. (And, no, I am not a worshiper or follower of Joyce Meyer. I am a follower of Jesus Christ; however, giving honor, thanks, and respect to those God has used in our lives to encourage, challenge, and teach us as followers of Christ is a good thing for all of us to do from time to time – including our pastors, mentors, other friends, leaders, and teachers, etc.) Joyce will make you laugh and cry while feeding you the truth of the Word of God. Her testimony is amazing and powerful of all that God has brought her through, and it is amazing to see how God has used the ministry of Joyce Meyer to advance the kingdom of God all over the world (all glory to God alone – Psalm 115:1).
I also appreciate the richness and thoroughness of Beth Moore’s Bible studies and books, and especially enjoyed going through her “Breaking Free” and “James – Mercy Triumphs” studies, even though I did not previously enjoy “listening” to her as much as Joyce, but still loved, appreciated, and respected the gift of God within her. More recently, this has changed, and I have enjoyed more listening to Beth (beyond reading her books and using her Bible studies/guides) and love her heart. This is also another confirmation that God uses different people and personalities to reach different people, as many that are fond of Beth may not care so much for the unique voice of Joyce or her style of teaching, etc. However, both of them are being used mightily for God’s kingdom purposes. Both of these beautiful women of God share the common experience of overcoming sexual abuse, and God has raised them up for such a time as this as trophies of His amazing grace and a demonstration of His healing power.
Okay, so back to their TV program on unity. During their discussion, they both acknowledged experiencing the pain of having portions of what they have taught taken out of context to the point where they did not even recognize their own quotes from those whose ultimate desire is to distort the truth of their message and attack them personally. They also mentioned how hurtful this is when people misquote them or speak against them who do not even know them at all. Overall, their discussion today was a reminder of how important it is for the body of Christ to encourage and support one another, even when we don’t agree on every single doctrine, but agree on the main doctrines of Biblical Christianity, challenging us to agree to disagree peaceably, be less fault finding, and more pro-active in promoting love and unity across denominational lines. God blesses unity (see Psalm 133), and there He has commanded the blessing. On the contrary, strife and division are the work of the enemy. It is wonderful to see how Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore, both mighty women of God, are obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit to step out and lead by coming together publicly to encourage unity within the body of Christ. Lord, help us all to do the same.
Perhaps more of us need to pray and agree with the fulfillment of Jesus’ own prayer in
John 17:9-11: “My prayer is not for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You. All who are Mine belong to You, and You have given them to Me, so they bring Me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given Me Your name; now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as We are.”
To view the program on unity with Bible Teachers, Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer go to www.joycemeyer.org
Below is my original blog post, which I decided I needed to follow through with completing and posting today after seeing Beth Moore joining with Joyce Meyer on her program:
Encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Building up others or bashing? Which one are you doing?
Are you guilty of bashing or criticizing or speaking against another believer or worse yet, against a pastor or teacher or another church body? We are one in Christ, right? Or, we are supposed to be one in Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit, one hope .. there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all…” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Ephesians 4:3 clearly commands us to be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace. When we speak against, criticize, or, even worse, spread untruths (gossip – something we’ve just heard from someone else and have not witnessed personally or has not been verified), we are actually speaking against and condemning, judging our own selves as a member of the body of Christ. Jesus himself told us in Matthew 7 not to judge or we will be judged in just the same way that we judge others. Even if it isn’t gossip and may be true, where in scripture are we told to focus on publicizing the sins of others? God is the only True Judge. On the contrary, my Bible says “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). So if we are following the second greatest commandment that Jesus gave of loving others as yourself (Mark 12:30-31), we should desire to cover the sins of others rather than expose them.
Another good truth to keep in mind is that when something is of God, we are not going to stop it. If it’s not of God, yes, it may go forth, but eventually the truth will be uncovered and revealed, and whatever seed has been sown, a harvest will be reaped. (See Acts 5:38-39, where, even through a Pharisee named Gamaliel, we are told “….if this doctrine or purpose or undertaking or movement is of human origin, it will fail (be overthrown and come to nothing), but, if it is of God, you will not be able to stop or overthrow or destroy them; you might even be found fighting against God!” – Amplified version – referring basically to the sovereign will or purpose of God.) Of course, this does not apply as a blanket response to instances where we need to deter the physical or mental abuse, coercion or manipulation of others, or defend or maintain law and order within society; nor should we excuse blatantly evil or illegal behavior, or teachings completely contradictory to scripture or mainstream Christian doctrines. Yes, we should all agree that correction, and speaking the truth in love are in order at times, especially to protect the church and to defeat the lies of the god of this world. Predominately, what I am referring to is the careless, reckless, and critical (nitpicky), accusations of others who are clearly trying to follow Christ, and especially Pastors and churches that are doing the good works of the Kingdom. Unfortunately, this is far too common even among believers. Many of us need to recall that (in Matthew 7:18), Jesus said you will know who belongs to God by their fruit. Therefore, many of us need to hold our tongues from speaking against those whose ministries and lives are founded upon the rock of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and are bearing the Biblical fruit of salvation, changed lives, discipleship, love, mercy, grace, outreach, etc. etc. (Perhaps, we should say, “woe” to you who call Christian ministries or churches cults. This might be what the Bible refers to as calling good evil? Isaiah 5:20)
When we see something we disagree with, don’t understand, or perhaps just don’t like from another believer, leader, Pastor, church, etc., shouldn’t our first response be to pray, and then, secondly, refer to what scripture says about the behavior or situation? If we are told to pray for and bless our enemies, the least we can do is pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, right? Yes, we can judge fruit, but I’m really amazed at how many quickly jump on the band wagon of judging others, even when there is tremendous fruit, especially in the area of certain churches and the good fruit that is clearly evident, and still even other Christians want to bash or find fault? Shouldn’t we be erring on the side of extending “grace” in place of “judgment” within the body of Christ, especially since we are all so eager to receive grace personally. It’s really sad that often nonbelievers do a better of job of “covering” others and giving more “grace” than those of us who claim to be following Christ. Let’s think about that and let’s not just think, let’s pray about it and then practice it.