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Chapter 24 - Being 'Right'

The Pharisees give us another insight that we can apply to attempting to live the Christian life in the flesh. If we allow ourselves to think of the Christian life in binary terms as either doing ‘right’ things or ‘wrong’ things, we set ourselves up for either crippling guilt or smug pride.

Organizational systems and seminaries often brand themselves with a particular set of doctrines in attempt to define what is the ‘correct’ configuration of Christianity. Since Christianity is supposed to be about growth (which is a dynamic process), this would seem to try to impose a static restraint on the Christian life.

Organizational systems usually attempt to exercise control through compliance and conformity. Any deviation from what has been established is seen as error. The desire to prevent error often leads organizations to restrict their members to servile positions whose actions are only allowed in approved ways.

The bible describes Christian differences as allowable and even expected. Considering Christianity is supposed to be about individual growth, one might reasonably expect that there will be differences.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. - Romans 14:5

Christians are expected to demonstrate unity. This is to come from maturity which leads all to deeper love and selflessness. Unfortunately, attempting to live the Christian life as an extension of an organized system usually prevents maturity and produces contention between systems with different doctrines.

Once can see a biblical example of error correction with Aquilla and Priscilla.

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. - Acts 18:24-26

What destroys unity is holding to factions and divisions.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? - 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

The difference between these two examples is that Apollos was being led by the Spirit and as such was seeking truth. The Corinthians were following their flesh resulting in a combative spirit of contention. This illustrates what might be called the difference between seeking truth and being right.

At first it might sound like being right is the same as seeking truth, but on closer examination being right is more about conformance to some standard and is static. It is useful to organizational systems as it is fixed, it can appear as final or complete truth. This perspective results in a degree of pride in having reached completion as well as hostility towards anything different as by definition, it must be in error. Since organizational systems present themselves as the final word of truth, members taking the initiative to seek further are discouraged and can even be sanctioned for their inquiry.

In contrast, seeking truth is a dynamic process that by definition will, at various stages, contain elements that only approximate truth. The person seeking truth is open to correction and as he is being led by the Spirit, more open to truth.


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