By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
It is becoming more difficult to find TV shows that don’t have a hidden message. Whether that message includes references to evolution, a dig against modesty, or the normalization of sin; there is always something to guard against.
Romans 12:2-3 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
The apostle Paul warns us that taking part in the world runs of the risk of us conforming to the beliefs of society. It is Paul’s hope that Christian’s diligently study the word of God so that they may be able to transform their mind from the world. We are then immediately warned to humble ourselves so that our judgment can be accurate. Those who are proud and those who conform to the world are not thinking clearly and run the risk of losing their soul.
Romans 12:9-17 (ESV): Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
To ensure we remain sober and our beliefs are aligned with God’s, Paul gives a list of things we can do. Christians are expected to have a genuine love and affection for each other. They are sickened and hate being in the presence of evil, only finding peace absorbing what is good. They are selfless, meek, and humble with their interactions; and they are devoted to serving the Lord above all things. To follow the will of God is not the easiest thing in a world full of distractions, but it is achievable if we are willing to study and obey His word.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
It is important for Christians to be united in the word of God. We are united if you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, died for the sins of the world, and rose again on the third day. We are united if you believe Jesus is going to return in all His glory to judge the world. We are united if you believe baptism is the death of your old self, and the birth of your new self in Christ.
Ephesians 4:3-6 (ESV): Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
However, if we do not share these traits, then we are not united in Christ. The kingdom of God cannot be divided against itself. In fact, nothing can continue to exist if the people are divided against each other. When Christians do not agree about the Gospel, they make it difficult to convert an unbeliever. When an unbeliever sees fractions within the church, whether an issue of doctrine or opinion, the church’s influence is weakened. Disagreements among believers tend to progress into larger divisions, which can lead to church’s splitting or dying altogether.
Mark 3:24-26 (ESV): If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.
How many different church buildings/signs/names do you see when you are driving to your place of worship? I see almost a dozen every day, and I can’t help but think, this is not what Christ wanted. In a couple circumstances, the churches are built right next to each other. Multiple churches are across the street from each other, or within a few blocks. And it is not as though these churches are filled to capacity. They are often smaller congregations that are divided on matters of opinion. Sometimes the differences are the result of someone removing something from God’s word; other times, it is the result of someone adding to God’s word. By allowing personal opinions to enter into the Gospel of Christ, it taints the word of God.
Galatians 1:6-10 (NKJV): I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
The apostle Paul frequently discusses this problem among the early churches. He talks about the fact that no one (and I mean no one) can change the word of God and still call it the word of God. It is something we should take comfort in, because we know exactly what God requires of us to be faithful. There is no pop quiz or gotcha questions to trip us up on the Last Day. All we have to do is remain faithful to the unchanging word of God.
When looking for the church found in the Bible, what criteria should we use? Which congregational shortcomings are something we should persevere through and which ones are doctrine issues we should avoid? First and foremost, when looking for the church we should make sure it is built on the right foundation.
Ephesians 2:20-22 (ESV): Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The church needs to be teaching the principles found in the Bible. The Bible is the only place we can find the inspired word of God, His teachings, His will, and His expectations. This is important because it is the word of God found in the Bible that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). The apostles and prophets under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit shared the word of God. They risked their lives and gave everything they knew to be obedient to His will and we should be willing to do the same. There is only one church and it is up to us to find that church using Scripture.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV): Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The church should not only be worshiping in truth, but also in Spirit. We will know we are residing in the church when we are consistently and enthusiastically sharing the word of God with each other. When we are humble in correction and willing to listen to the doctrinal concerns of others. We should engage each other in Bible studies instead of readily agreeing to disagree. In church we will sing spiritual songs that are accurate and consistent with Scripture. The church is not a place to sing any song we please, but songs that are edifying the congregation through the word of God. Last and often overlooked, the church is full of people with a heart of thanksgiving. Those in the church do not necessarily have everything they want, but they know everything they have is from God. They understand that all good things come from heaven and if now is not the right time, now is not the right time (James 1:17). Christians within the body of Christ will not covet what others have for any reason, they will be content in their blessing. When looking for the church, these are matters we should not compromise on. This does not mean every congregation we attend will implement these teachings the same way. It does not even mean they will fulfill these principles in agreement with how we believe they should be executed. But it does mean we should find these principles whenever we are looking for the church that will endure through the end of times (Matthew 16:18).
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As the saying goes, “show me who you hang out with and I can tell you something about yourself”. This is because we traditionally hang out with people we are comfortable being around. Comfort can be derived in many ways, but the most common form of comfort is acceptance of who we are. This is not to say everything our friends take part in is a direct reflection on us, but it is saying people who frequently disagree with each other tend to have fewer interactions.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV): Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
We should not be confused by the notion we can have friends we disagree with on a core level. Our core values should be something we are unable to compromise; so each time a core disagreement arises, it will likely be a point of contention. If it is not an issue, then it is reasonable to conclude one of the participant’s core values have changed or it was never a core value to begin with. Much the same as siblings or a spouse will inherit characteristics of their loved ones; we will absorb tendencies based on who we surround ourselves with. This is part of the reason we often see the Bible telling us to limit our interaction with divisive and ungodly people.
Romans 16:17 (ESV): I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
If we maintain good character, bad company will not want anything to do with us. Shining a light in a world of darkness is the surest way to have a limited amount of friends and an abundance of adversaries.
John 15:18-19 (NIV): If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Jesus wanted to make sure His disciples knew if they lived as He did, the world would hate them. The passage also holds true for us today; if we live as the world lives, the world will welcome us with love. The people we befriend are a direct representation of this passage. If they are a part of the world and they befriend us, then we may be a part of the world or at least accepting of it. We should take no part in ungodly acts, but use our interactions to expose them (Ephesians 5:11). If we speak truth in love as Jesus did and shine our light, we will be able to influence those around us for the better. This leads us back to the opening statement; show me who your friends are and I will tell you something about yourself. The question for each of us to answer is whether that represents our understanding of ourselves, and if not, what can we do to change?
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There are multiple reasons why it is a good idea for any institution to be united in mission. For instance, it will provide direction to its members and the ability for everyone to take a part in creating the success. When we have decisions to make, we can reference the values outlined in the mission. We also have the tool necessary to resolve conflicts when two or more people have differing opinions. One of the most important reasons for any institution to be united in mission is because a divided institution cannot sustain itself.
Luke 11:17 (ESV): But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.
Without a mission, conflicts will go unresolved and factions will be created within the institution. New mission statements will be created by each faction, outlining a new focus and direction. That is part of the reason the church is expected to avoid such controversies.
Titus 3:9-11 (NIV): But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
As outlined above, arguing and having controversies are not an issue within themselves; it is foolish arguments and matters of opinion that should be avoided. The mission statement is created to resolve conflicts and provide direction. Therefore, when the parties are arguing about matters the Bible cannot resolve; it is going to lead to trouble. Likewise, if an institution is not willing to defend the mission statement (no matter the result), that institution is not going to last either. We cannot compromise on values and principles for the sake of peace and unity, but we should be humble enough to allow the mission statement to be our guide.
Mark 8:34 (ESV): And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
To stay united in Christ, we must agree to defer to scripture before opinion, and we must be willing to deny ourselves for the kingdom of God.