As I’ve spent more time with God, he’s brought me to a few major realizations recently.
The first is that I don’t want to be “right” for the wrong reasons. It seems no one ever reasoned someone into the Kingdom, even if their theology/exegesis/doctrine (or whatever you want to call it) was “right.” I’ve began leaning away somewhat from sharing too many specific Bible interpretations because they may either not be relevant to others yet or a scripture lecture may only push them further away (assuming I’m even right in the first place). Discussion is fine in some circumstances, but more often than not, it can confuse or alienate others.
This leads to the second thing, standing with someone in their afflictions is more important than quoting scripture to them or inviting them to a meeting. Both of these things may have their place, but I’ve noticed most people, Christian or not, are looking for someone to stand with them even if they aren’t “perfect” (however that may be defined per situation). Standing against someone in their “failures” will only push them away either physically or trust-wise. People will not open up if they feel like they are just going to be guilt tripped or beat over the head with scripture. I may, at times, get something from the Bible that will help me and, once applied personally, eventually helps others as they see the results. However, a “Bible says” attitude only seems to alienate, confuse, or make people tone-death to the point of the message being presented.
This leads to the third thing I’ve come to realize which ties back to the first two–unity is better than being right. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to something that is obviously wrong or conformance for conformity’s sake. However, we all have shortcomings, none greater or lesser than the others. I’m learning it is better to stand with someone in unity (again, not to be confused with conformity) and help them to deepen their relationship with Jesus. Then, he will help them in his time and in his way.
After over a year of trying to put the pieces together, following Jesus is starting to make sense. It’s more than just Biblical interpretation as there are over 56000 ways to interpret, and we may never come to a solid agreement on those things in this life. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t stand with others, Christian or not, and be receptive to God’s leading in their life. In the end, people will come to/grow in Jesus because of how we showed him in our lives by being there with/for them. This relationship with Jesus and others is unlikely to form though through flexing Biblical knowledge, threats, or flashy services while only relating to those broken on a surface level a couple times a week.
A “safe” environment where we can fail, share our deepest shame, and be loved anyways seems to be what is needed. Imagine if “the church” could be that place.
As I was getting ready for bed last night, I was contemplating some of the things I’ve read and am starting to glean a slightly deeper understanding of from Matthew and other correlated scripture (Daniel, Isaiah, the other gospels, and the epistles). I was thinking about how everything is starting to make sense but also how overwhelmingly more there was to contemplate. As these thoughts were in my mind, I felt Jesus’ presence. Though understanding is starting to come somewhat easier now, I felt like I don’t have to know every single thing imminently. Jesus seemed to say, “It’s okay not to know every little detail because there’s too much to know anyway, but you’re learning and growing and that’s what’s important.” I also got the impression that I don’t have to try to explain every detail of the Kingdom as people are at different points in their walk and may not understand (or refuse to).
I’ve spent so long myself trying to understand the whys of religion and how to draw closer to God. When I stopped trying it my way or based off of a performance metric, I was able to just let Jesus lead me to what I needed to know and when. This has opened the door to consistent spiritual growth that a regimented formula never produced. I’m constantly awed at God’s amazing plan and how he has worked everything together. I’m reading the Bible as a beloved story of Jesus’ redefining of all our preconceived notions of righteousness, justice, and love.
As I think about the apostles, it seems many struggled at first until they came to a breakthrough where they learned to truly follow and reside in Jesus. Their circumstances no longer had any bearing on their spiritual state. I feel that I’m on the precipice of being able to more fully embrace this now that I’m losing my focus on man-made systems and worldly distractions. There are so many things Jesus has led me through that weren’t even part of religious preformatting though they helped in my own walk and in relating to others. With awe and trembling excitement I follow Jesus as he leads me through this amazing process.