Like many of you, I have journeyed in my walk with Christ learning from gifted teachers and sharing in community with other believers. However, 2020 proved to be a pivotal point in recognizing that some of the categories I have placed people in were wrong.
Let me give you some examples.
When I heard that someone was homeschooling, I would immediately place that person in my good category. If I heard that someone voted for a liberal candidate, that person would not be placed in my good category. If the person looked edgy with tattoos or body piercings, I would have no problem excluding them from my good category. The same was true of those who identified with Christian denominations I felt had faulty theology.
These ideas went unchallenged until I, like many other people, began to experience the tyranny of mandates that were an overreach by our civil governments at the local, state, and federal levels. Suddenly, many of the people who I deemed kindred spirits were reacting to the situation quite differently than I. In fact, some were self-consciously asserting a Biblical justification for compliance with these mandates and their decision to obey while criticizing others who didn’t agree. I couldn’t help but notice, that some of the previous people or groups that would never make it on to my good list were reacting to tyrannical mandates much like I was. Suddenly, my categories were deficient and unreliable.
The rubber has hit the road.
There was a time — say, until the Obama years — when Liberals could fairly reliably be counted on to be more pro-freedom than Conservatives: certainly in matters of speech, thought, and privacy.
That simply isn’t true anymore.
But perhaps there are some individuals who stayed Liberal, even as the Democratic Party went Progressive/Authoritarian.
I would tend to write off those Liberals, as dying/fading relics of the past. “No need for wolves to wear that sheepskin anymore.”
On the other hand, what I believe is not normative. God sets the norms. And His spirit goes where it wants to go.
As a result, I found myself attending a church in my city (ground zero to statist overreach) whose doors I would normally not have entered. Yet, I found that there were many others who had been similarly drawn to this church because it recognized in word and practice that, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29), and remained open.
For the past 15 months, I have had the opportunity to fellowship with others who valued their liberty in Christ and sought to obey the Scriptural command to not forsake meeting with the brethren (Heb. 10:25). I discovered that what united us was not doctrinal positions but the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us that, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” People from all sorts of backgrounds, social status, occupations, and previous church affiliations came to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, and did so with the possibility of opposition.
There is nothing like the Lord proving His point, and I have discovered that there are those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness and appreciate a place to gather with brothers and sisters in Christ. And guess what has happened? I have witnessed that this group of people has sparked a movement that lives out the reality that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). I have seen people step up to help fund scholarships for students to attend Christian school, even if they did not know the recipient family. I have seen people organize groups to facilitate families who wish to remove their children from public schools. I have seen medical professionals willing to share their gifts and talents with people who have no other place to go for help. This very real Covid crisis has done something peaceful security had not previously produced: the Body of Christ coming together.
Almost weekly, I hear of another project designed to allow people to learn things they may not have previously known. I have witnessed new friendships develop based on a strong desire to learn and apply God’s Word. In other words, I have seen faith produce faithfulness.
The blessed hope that Jesus gave His church right before His ascension to the right hand of the Father is that all power had been given to Him and that He would be with us as we carried out His Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). For the past three decades, I have embraced this intellectually and with faith, but it has really come to fruition during these past two years. I see the Kingdom advancing in ways that I could previously only imagine. In fact, I have said over and over again, I have seen more good fruit in the last two years than the many years I worked within denominations that shared basic doctrines that I embraced.
Those that came together with unknown ramifications did not produce the faith in themselves. That was God’s gift to them which they received. Faithfulness is the response to that gift. I have witnessed a move into greater orthodoxy amongst many I have come to know, not because they read the right books or changed their orientation to certain schools of thought. No, I believe this has occurred because they were responding to faith with faithfulness.
Andrea may well see what comes out of this movement, God willing.
I hope she tells us what happens next.