What About Differences
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 (NIV).
“Is it according to the Bible?” That’s the only test to apply to things people say and do about God and how we should follow Him. Is what they’re saying in line with God’s Word? Is it something Jesus commanded? Is it Godly?
As of the 2010 census, Celina, Texas (where I live) has a population of 16,315 people. At present, there are 16 churches, of which six are Baptist. The rest are non-denominational, Assemblies of God, Mormon, Methodist, Roman Catholic, or Church of God. Within the rest of Collin County, there are over 100 other churches serving over 1 million people. Each one of them teaches something slightly different about Christianity because many people may believe slightly different things.
Now, it’s nothing new that, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in one church, you can go to another (especially in north Texas). That goes back all the way to the Protestant Reformation. Yet, in truth, it goes back all the way to the time of the disciples, just after Jesus ascended to heaven. In those days, the small but quickly growing sects of Christianity met in peoples’ homes. Then as now, as long as it was preached that Christ was crucified, the rest of what was taught was of secondary importance.
Then as now, when teachers of old would attribute their own opinions and teachings to Jesus, trouble soon arose. Heresy doesn’t require much to take root. In fact, all it takes is a little human pride and darkness and soon the seeds of division begin to sink toxic roots.
In our day, hundreds of denominations in the Christian world preach slightly different messages. One would hope that the only denominator between them would be the Word of God. “Ecumenism” as a theory seems appealing; that there would be truths which are universal to Christ’s church. In practice, well, that rarely seems to be the case. Hence, in a small town like my own, there are sixteen different formal congregations and who knows how many others. They start because one or more people find something about church doctrine or practice that just doesn’t scratch their itch.
And that’s the problem. After all, it’s not about me.
It’s about Jesus. Peter knew that. He knew that divisions would come, groups would splinter, even in his own time when there were still hundreds of people alive who had personally encountered Christ. People would either deliberately or inadvertently steer the church wrong. He warned his friends – and us – to beware of such things. The good news is that the Good News is the only standard by which we need to compare. If what is said lines up with the Good News of Jesus, then all’s well. If not, well, then maybe it’s time to pass it by.
For further reading: Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Jeremiah 6:13, Acts 3:18, 1 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 2:2
Lord Jesus, please always keep Your holy word before us. Let it be the only standard by which we may gather in Your Name.
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