Friday, March 08, 2013
Is That What You Believe?
The Need to Make Disciples
Not that I plan to brag but every now and then we all need those small things that confirm when we are right. And yet in this instance, even as I would like to pat myself on the back I find myself wondering if those with whom I argued, most of whom professed to be Christians, truly understood why I asked, “Is that what you believe?”
It all started many years ago when I found myself spending a lot of time (perhaps too much time) visiting an online forum associated with an internationally known Christian ministry. Another visitor to the site challenged us all on a matter of faith, asking if what his denomination believed was not more in line with what makes sense. A number of readers were willing to take a stand, offering answers which the visitor quickly put down. Not wanting to pass up a chance to talk Bible I weighed in; offering my two cents and giving an answer it seems no one expected.
After a moment or two spent examining his argument I realized that what he was misquoting the Bible, attributing his words to what he had seen discussed on the forum. I told him that I felt his words did not represent the prevailing opinion and he offered up another variation. While this one was closes than the original, it still was not on the mark. So I challenged the visitor to prove that his misquotes were in fact what the majority of those contributing believed. He won the challenge, not because his arguments were better but because most of the others did not understand my statements. The final straw came when the moderator stepped in, giving indication that the pastor of the parent church in fact believed just as the challenger had described. I left the forum feeling disheartened and wondering if my own beliefs were really that far off base.
I stopped visiting that forum for a number of reasons, including this discussion. But I did continue to receive a monthly magazine published by the ministry. In this periodical the pastor offers a daily devotional, one which the Lord has often used to open my eyes. It was in a recent devotional that the pastor addressed the very topic discussed on the forum. In teaching on the subject this pastor in essence taught what I had believed. I know it had nothing to do with that long ago discussion and imagine those involved have long forgotten the dispute long ago. I just found it interesting that the day’s teaching so mirrored what I once said, running counter to what once was implied to be the belief of the man who wrote the devotional.
But I take no comfort in having been proven correct. Instead I find myself with a number of questions. How is it that a web master was allowed to monitor a Christian forum while not knowing what his boss believed? Was he/she properly disciple before being assigned a very public leadership position in their church? Are other churches putting people into positions of leadership without taking the time to properly disciple them in the very faith to which we claim to adhere? It seems to me that this webmaster had not received the teaching necessary, not just to represent the organization for which he/she worked, but to survive the challenges of living the faith in a world full of secular challenges.
I come away from this knowing that I for one have not fully obeyed God’s call to go and make disciples. Yes, I talk to others about Christ but I find I fall short when it comes to making sure those who accept Christ continue to grow in the faith. As members of the body of Christ we need to be open to building each other up. When given the opportunity we should teach knowing that those profess Christ have not finished their learning. Be ready to teach and at the same time be teachable. In the end you will see others grow while you become more like your Savior.