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Fear and Theology

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The Catholics believe that the Pope is infallible when speaking as the Pope he cannot make a mistake. The Catholics believe that it is a good idea to pray to Mary the mother of Jesus. The Catholics believe that it is a good idea to pray to certain people who have been certified by the church as saints who can perform miracles. The Catholics believe that the Pope can forgive sins. The Catholics believe that when you take communion the bread and wine literally becomes part of the body and blood of Jesus and when you eat and drink it you take grace into your body.
We are not like the Catholics are we? We don’t believe what they believe do we, or do we?
The Catholics believe that there is one God in three persons. The Catholics believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of God. The Catholics believe that the church is the bride of Christ. The Catholics believe that the bible is the inspired word of God. The Catholics believe that Jesus died for our sins.
Perhaps we do believe like the Catholics, sometimes.
Maybe we should not worry about what Catholics believe and what Baptists believe so much as we worry about what God says and what is true. Perhaps it is not as important who who someone is or where they come from as it is what they say and do. Perhaps we should evaluate people by their words and their actions rather than by their background or their past.
That can be a hard thing for us to do and we have been struggling with it for a really long time.
Matthew 13:53–58 NASB95
When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
When Jesus arrived back in his hometown people were more worried about who he was and who his family was than about what he said and did. They were not able to hear his teaching because they could not get past the idea that he had grown up around there and so they thought what gives him the right to teach. They could not believe in what Jesus was doing because they were so caught up in Him being just like them.
Perhaps they thought that if they allowed someone who had grown up in the same neighborhood as them, going to the same synagogue and attending the same school to be a teacher and a miracle worker then they would lose their own excuses for not having done those things themselves.
The success of Jesus as a teacher, prophet and miracle worker actually threatened them because if he could do it then they had not excuse for themselves. In some ways it is easier to make excuses by saying to yourself, and others, that a person who is highly educated must have had more advantages than you, a person who is more spiritual must have had a better start in life than you. It is easy to accept that someone who is super smart or who comes from a Godly family, especially if it is so far away that you don’t really know much about them, has had all of the advantages and that is why they are able to do such wonderful things.
But did God not offer wisdom to whoever asks, did not Jesus say that his followers would perform more wonderful things than the ones they saw him do? I think what hold us back more often than not is fear.
Lets look at another person who was afraid
Matthew 14:1–12 NASB95
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Having been prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.
When Harod heard about Jesus he was afraid that it was John the Baptist come back from the dead. Herod wanted to kill John but was afraid of the reaction of the people. His wife and daughter tricked him into having John killed, the very think he wanted to do anyway, and Herod was grieved. He was not grieved because he did not want to kill John , Herod wanted John dead, he was grieved because he was still afraid how the people would react. Fear controlled his life.
Fear can cause us to jump to conclusions. I once watched a video of various interviews of college students at a liberal college. The interviewer would ask students what they thought of Trumps polices pr actions and then describe a policy of Obama and the students would talk about how stupid it was, the interviewer would then ask how they felt about Obama’s policy or action and then describe one of Trump’s policies and the student would talk about how great it was. This happened over and over.
In short anything that Trump said or did was the worst thing ever and anything Obama said or did was the best thing ever. I have seen the same reaction from the other side of the political arena as well. I have also seen the same thing from Catholics and protestants, or even from two different branches of baptists.
The truth is we normally agree on more things than we disagree on and just because someone on the other side said it doesn’t make it wrong and just because someone on our side said it doesn’t make it right. The only side that really counts is God’s side. Everything on God’s side is right and everything else is wrong because God is the one who determines right and wrong. Instead of evaluating someone’s words or actions by their hometown, political party, skin color, or even their sexual orientation we should evaluate everything by what God says about it.
Now I believe that homosexuality is a sin but that doesn’t mean that a homosexual can’t say or do something that agrees with God and is therefor right. If only those who never sinned could ever be right then that would make it easy, everyone would be wrong. I picked that particular group because it is a group of sinners that we modern day Christians tend to demonize and make worse than all other sins. In reality we can find ourselves rejecting the teaching of Jesus because we don’t like who repeated it just like the Jews in Matthew 13 rejected Jesus because of where he was from.
Just like Herod in Matthew 14 we are also prone to making judgments based on fear and self interest. Herod was not concerned with right or wrong and he was certainly not concerned with what God said. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do and to not get in trouble with the people or with his wife. Don’t we do that ourselves.
Don’t we face the same decisions. Are we not tempted to sometimes do things not because they are right or wrong, not because they agree with God or disagree with God but because we want to keep our spouse from getting upset with us, or our coworkers or our boss, or sometimes even our friends. Haven’t you ever felt pressured to do something because everyone expected you to or because you knew someone you care about would want you to. Have you ever made a decision based on what was popular rather than what was right or based on what would keep you out of trouble rather than what God said was the right thing to do? You may have even made decisions based on the expectations of others without even considering what was right or wrong but what was expected of you.
My first experience with this type of thing in church blew my mind. I was a new Christian, I had only been saved a couple of years, I was just a baby in Christ. I was still naive enough to think that church people didn’t do the same kinds of things that non-Christians did.
I couldn’t get enough of God, I was constantly reading and talking to anyone who would talk to me about God, the church and spiritual things. I had moved and joined a southern Baptist church and was there every time the doors opened.
I joined a Sunday School class and the second week something happened that opened my eyes to things I had never seen before in church. The class was taught by a young couple and the second week the man was not there so the woman taught. I asked and found out that this happened every other week.
As it so happened I had recently read the passage where Paul says I do not allow a woman to have authority over a man and I had read a study note that told me that many people believed this meant a woman could not preach or teach a male class. I was still forming my own beliefs so I had some research to do.
I read some stuff and this particular church used the deacon family ministry plan where every person in the church had a deacon assigned to them that they could go to with problems or questions so I did. What I didn’t know but later learned was that my assigned deacon had been the main defender of this woman teaching a class and that the pastor had opposed it and it had become a big disagreement in the church.
I showed the deacon the passage in the bible and I will never forget what he said. He said I don’t know about that but............ and he proceeded to let me have it about why it was okay for her to teach the class. At the time I wasn’t sure what was OK or not but the fact that a deacon could shrug off the bible saying I don’t know about that but...... blew me away.
He was more concerned about his side than about being on God’s side. regardless of whether his arguments were right or wrong his approach was all wrong. He was more concerned about being right than about being on God’s side in the argument. Unfortunately it is easy for us to do. I have found myself wanting to be proven right more than I wanted to make sure I was on God’s side before and I am ashamed of it.
you see the important thing is not whether or not you agree with me, or belong to the same group I belong to, it is not important that you say what I say or do what I do, it is only important that you agree with God, that you say what He says and do what He does. The only time you should imitate me is when I am imitating God and then you are not really imitating me you are imitating God.
Don’t get caught up in whether the other person is from the same background as you, the same political party, the same class, the same race or anything concerned about whether or not you line up with God and whether or not the other person lines up with God, if you do then you will line up together anyway and if you don’t one or maybe even both of you need to change.
The most important thing about another person is not their politics, their education, their race, their background, or even their past sins or present sins, the most important thing is whether they are lost or saved. The second most important thing about a person, providing that they are saved, is how will their life lines up with what God says and in every place that someones life lines up with God I should support and imitate them, in every place their life departs from God I should oppose their words and actions and lovingly try to bring them back into fellowship with Jesus.
That is the test of right or wrong. How well does it match up with God, nothing else. If someone has a completely different background than me, with a completely different past, different skin color, language, history, education, and if they are completely different from me in every other way but they line up with Jesus and I line up with Jesus then we should be closer than brothers because that is the standard that matters.
That is how i know which side I am on, as for me and my house we will serve the lord, won’t you come along too?
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