This morning I did something that I don’t normally do. Instead of driving to my office, where mounds of “to do’s” await me, I passed my office and continued on to a gathering of Christians from all over the city. The purpose of this gathering was to unite together in prayer for our city, county and nation at large. Now let me explain my reasons for going:
First, this is not something that I would normally attend. I recognize that I tend to draw fairly hard lines when it comes to my theology and doctrine and that doesn’t usually lend itself to good ecumenical conversation. However, I also recognize that unity among believers in Christ is essential. Far too often we separate or keep from fellowship with other Christians over non essential issues.
When I say non essential issues I mean issues such as methods of baptism, the validity of speaking in tongues, the pre, a, or post millennial return of Christ, and a whole host of other issues. While important none of these are essential to our Christology and our belief that the only way to be reconciled to God the Father is by the person and work of the Christ Jesus.
So by refusing to attend such gatherings based on the differences of non essential issues I have negated the power of the blood of Christ to unite me to Himself, the Father, the Holy Spirit and other believers. This was after all Christs’ prayer, that we (Christs’ followers) be unified together in Christ according to His own Words in John 17.
The second reason that I attended this gathering was that to combat my own personal hang-ups with emotionalism. In the past I have attended gatherings such as this that were filled with over emotionalism. That is by no means to say that all events such as this are dripping with sugary “I love you’s”, hour long introductions of hugs, and standing ovations for every presenter, prayer, and “distinguished” guest. It is to say that my particular personality does not lend itself to emotionalism of any kind. I tend to steer clear of anything that I perceive to be filled with such.
However, I attended this event today ready to look past any bit of emotionalism, in the effort to meet, encourage, and unite with other Christ followers in our city. I must add that the event was in no way over emotional.
Looking past the “non-essentials”, I attended this gathering with hopes of centering ourselves on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Christ is essential, necessary and in fact the ONLY way to approach God in prayer for anything. Christ Himself said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) In fact any attempt to approach the One True God through any other means is futile. It is Christ alone that sits at the right hand of the Father as the High Priest making Him available to man. He does this through the appointment of God being God and offering His perfect sacrifice for the sins of His creation. The author of Hebrews says:
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:5-6 ESV)
Now this is something that I can get excited about! Jesus Christ receiving the glory, honor, and prayers that He deserves as the Only Begotten of the Father. Being the Only One worthy to take upon my sin and present Himself as a sacrifice to the Father thereby reconciling me to God. Amen! Amen! And Amen!
I believe that this was the intent of our gathering today. However, it was high jacked with the message that by loving “people” the entire world will know that we are Christians. Let that statement sink in. “ By loving “people”.” This is a misquote from John 13:34 and 35 when Jesus states, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Italics added) Good exegesis puts this statement in the context of the “last supper” where only the 12 Disciples where present. This is not to say that we should not love folks outside of the Body of Christ. That is not how people will know we are followers of Christ. They will know that by the way that we love each other. Not by the way that we love (open ended).
Perhaps the most distracting and dare I say all out assault to the supremacy of Christ at this gathering was when the keynote speaker elicited our participation in a prayer for world peace. While that may sound good let me state my case. This man gathers every week to pray this prayer with the following individuals: Rabbis, Jewish theologians, Muslims, Buddhists, Evangelicals, and someone he identified as “independents” (I am still not sure what that meant.) This solicitation of those seeking the face of God outside of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ is contrary to the peace that Christ made possible.
Christ came to bring peace in the most fundamental and essential way. He came to make peace available between God and man. Then and only then will it be possible for men to live at peace with each other. So, to ask a person to seek God’s help in bringing about peace amongst unbelieving people when, according to Jesus Himself whose teaching sets people at odds with each other.
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36 ESV)
My point in all of this is to warn those believing in the Gospel to make Christ central to all that we do. Do not dishonor Him by demoting Him from His position of God to that of another god that is impotent and unable to do nothing. This is exactly what we do when we call upon His Holy Name in the same breath as the gods of Buddhists, Muslims, and the like.
May I leave you with the words of John:
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.(1 John 2:18-27 ESV)