DISCLAIMER IIThroughout this particular post (Part V only) I get into some fairly detailed personal philosophies and viewpoints. Thus, while I would consider it safe to say that Genny and I generally agree on most of this stuff, I donít want to imply that Iím speaking on her behalf here. I think itís fairly obvious when I shift to a personal viewpoint or philosophy, so please take that stuff in the proper context. There are other things that apply to us both, and I believe they present themselves as such also.
Part V - Where We Are Now
by Phil and Genny DavisFirst of all, Iíll say that after almost two years of attending Horizon Christian Fellowship, Genny and I (and our children, by the way) are still very happy. We have yet to actually ďjoinĒ the church, but we support it financially and are definitely being fed. The best word I can think of to describe our church-situation is ďhealthyĒ, all the way around.
In addition to our church friends, we have developed many, many other friendships. In addition to our friends from our time at CFCMI (many of which we still actively maintain), we have friends from the military, friends who were neighbors, friends from the kidsí activities, friends from the YMCA, friends from surfing, etc. A couple of them are as close as the closest relationships we had in CFCMI. And guess what, some are Christians and some are not.
Weíve found that there are a lot of really nice, interesting, fun people out there. We seek to lift up Christ to our non-Christian friends, mainly in our day-to-day nature and attitudes, and we make Christ a fairly regular part of our relationships with our Christian friends (mainly in conversation, occasional church-related functions, etc.). But, we donít really make a huge deal out of our Christianity either way. Itís just who we are.
Finally, Christ is a regular part of our life at home. No, weíre not where we should be. But at the same time, weíre not being driven by a pastor to meet a quota of letters, Bible studies per week, etc., etc. Instead, the regular teaching of Godís Word is challenging us from within. We have a long, long way to go to be where we want to be. We recognize that. By CFCMI standards, weíre definitely heathen. But, thank God weíre not trying to live up to the lawÖoops, I mean live up to manís standards any more.
Now, to shift a little more into our (probably more ďmyĒ) approach to Christianity, Iíd like to pick up from the ďPart IV Ė Where We SettledĒ post with a quote from a post I made almost exactly one year ago. This post was made about the same timeframe where I left off in the ďWhere We SettledĒ post, so I think itíll make a good transition. The title I gave it for my files is ďOn FundamentalismĒ and it represents a paradigm shift in how I look at God and Christianity. It sort of settles the detailed, word-for-word arguments over black and white ďdoctrineĒ issues up front. Thatís simply not how I look at things now.
Hereís the quote:
ďIt's my view that the fundamentalist aspect of CFCMI teachings certainly leant itself perfectly to the abuses.
The reason is that in that environment nothing really has to make sense in the "real" world, because it's "worldly", and as long as the leader claims he's being led of God, the only justification has to be a few scriptures. Everything is so "spiritual" that it doesn't have to make sense to the average person...because the average person is so lost in the first place they wouldn't know "truth" if it hit them in their face.
That's an unhealthy environment that is a Petri dish for abuse, rationalizations and out of balance teachings. Does it exist in all "fundamental" churches? I don't know, but it certainly did in CFCMI and I occasionally sense similar mindsets in some of the postings here.
I said once in a post that I no longer live in a world of black and white. I've found so much of what I was SURE was right for so long to actually be wrong, that I realize now the danger in defining things for God. It's a world of gray out there, and I'm totally secure wading through it all, unsure of the spiritual boundaries and truths in given situations but trusting God to keep me as long as I sincerely trust in him.
Sure, I'm all about seeking God's will for every aspect of my life...I'm just a lot more hesitant to stand up and say that I'm sure I'm on the right side of what his will is. And that's fine. No sweat, actually. It's a wonderful way to live. Just try to judge each situation by such scriptures as James 3:17...Is the approach I'm taking pure? Is it gentle? Is it full of mercy and good fruits? Is it without hypocrisy and partiality? IF the answers are yes, then I'm probably heading in the right direction. If I'm not, but I'm trying to, that's cool too.
Ö The legalistic folks in the Bible seem to have had a real tough time with Jesus too. Not sure why I didn't see the almost mirror image of the Pharisees in CFCMI when I was there...
I love where I am in God, the liberty he's given me in Him, and it's just getting better every day.Ē
Truth is, that after over more than a year, thatís pretty much still my philosophy.
And hereís another BIG point to follow it up:
Please donít pick an argument with me, trying to convince me Iím wrong and youíre right. Iíve had enough of the ďLet me tell you how wrong you areĒ approach to fill several lifetimes. See, the point is, IíM ALREADY CONVINCED IíM WRONG, so thereís no need in you trying to point it out to me. I ALREADY KNOW IT.
Now, that might sound sort of silly, but itís true. You see, Iíve decided that no matter how much I think Iíve got everything figured out, thereís at least SOMETHING about my viewpoint that Iím going to later realize was wrong. In fact, at any given time, thereís more likely MANY things that I think to be true that, in the end, will be proven to be false.
I simply am not a real good judge of absolute truth. But, the nice thing is, I think Iím about as good at it as the average person. So, I figure itís nothing to get too worked up about. As Andy Rooney said, ďItís better to be kind than to be rightĒ. I kinda like that quote. Oh, and by the way, I believe the Bible supports that position.
You see, when the disciples found other people teaching in Jesusí name and objected, Jesus didnít ask them what, exactly, they were teaching. He simply said to let them be.
In general, itís my intention to let other people who are preaching in Jesusí name, who appear to bearing good, healthy fruit, go on their way. Who am I to tell them they are wrong and I am right? I mean, Iíve done A LOT of that in my life, and Iíve come to the conclusion that itís generally a destructive approach.
Now, I didnít say that I donít want to discuss my beliefs and Iím not interested in hearing yours. Just donít come at me with a ďYouíre wrong, let me show you the scriptures to prove it.Ē approach. Just share your faith. Share your insights and beliefs. Lift up Christ the best way you know how. Take an occasional stand if you deem it necessary. THAT, I can deal with.
But, as I said, please DONíT give me a condescending, ďI know youíre going to hell, itís too bad you donít realize itĒ attitude. I was a very ďeffectiveĒ Bible study teacher using that approach for many years and donít have much of a taste for it any more.
So, if Iím not going to go around trying to find people who donít believe like me so I can tell them that theyíre wrong, what am I going to do to promote God?
Well, itís not as big of a crisis as it might seem. I figure Iíll try to live a life that lifts up Christ. Iíll try to live a life that points to the gentleness and loving-kindness of his nature. Iíll try my best to personify the fruits of the Spirit. Iíll simply seek to live a life of integrity.
Part of that integrity, however, involves occasionally confronting corruption and evil when I see it. Yes, that does require judging something to be wrong. Yes, that does require making a stand as a Christian. Thatís cool with me too.
In many ways, the approach I describe above and the legalistic approach are similar, but I think itís the overall mindset thatís different. Mercy rejoices over judgment. I count on that. Knowing that Iím wrong forces me to do so.
I think this would be a good point to briefly describe two approaches I take toward things that have been very useful over the last year or two:
First, my relationship with God Ė I look at myself as his child.
Iím his son, and Iíll always be his son. Yes, I could do something so reprehensible that he would disown me (i.e., ďlose my salvationĒ), but I donít live in fear of that. While itís a possibility, it certainly wonít occur as long as I maintain a sincere, loving relationship with him. I mean, look at your own children. Would you banish them for not doing EXACTLY what you said all the time? No way! There are consequences, especially for outright disobedience, but your love and mercy toward them wins out every time. I want to please my Father, and am seeking toÖand I think THATís the most pleasing thing to Him.
Second, judging right from wrong Ė I like to apply the following scripture:
James 3:17 ďBut the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.Ē
This has worked real well for me. Ask yourself :
- Is the way that youíre looking at a situation or if the decision or action you are considering is pure? Are you generally doing this for the right reasons?
- Next, is it peaceable and gentle? Or, is it going to cause strife instead?
- Next, is it merciful and does it properly represent Christ (good fruits)?
- Finally, is it fair, just, honest and without hypocrisy?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then itís probably of God. If not, it probably isnít.
The nice thing about this test is that you can apply it to just about everything: buying a house or car, deciding whether to get into a business deal or personal relationship, choosing how to guide a conversation, or even deciding on how you are going to approach a religious issue.
No, itís not a panacea. Itís more of a mindset, really.
And, let me remind you, itís only a belief. My belief. As such, Iím going to live by it until I see through the scriptures and perhaps someone elseís testimony that itís wrong. Thatíll be OK with me, though, because, donít forget, I already know that my understanding of things is in error any way.
In fact, thatís one of the FEW things that Iím sure ofÖthat somewhere Iím wrong.
Itís that insufficiency mindset that really drives me to God and the leadership of his Holy Ghost in so many new and refreshing ways. I end up being much more dependent upon Him than I was before because the more I learn, the more Iím convinced that I havenít got it all figured out.
But, AHHHH, thatís when those wonderful scriptures on grace and mercy come into play. As I said above, ďI love where I am in God, the liberty he's given me in Him, and it's just getting better every day.Ē
So, thatís where Genny and I are in general, and where I am in particular.
Sorry for not coming out and picking sides on all the doctrinal issues that many who recently left CFCMI may be struggling with. The bottom line is that we all have to work out that stuff on our own.
My thing is just not to get too worked up about it all and beat yourself up all the time.
God loves you, heís your Father, and heís going to take care of you. At least, thatís the way Genny and I look at it.