2013-09-17 - Doctrinal Misunderstandings
No "Lone Rangers"
For the next several weeks, we will discuss several common misunderstandings about what the Bible teaches.
One of the most common misunderstandings that I have heard said to people who are hurting is that they should "just pray" and talk to God and then they won't need to talk to anyone else, counselors aren't necessary, friends aren't necessary etc. Someone else, long ago, coined the phrase "Lone Ranger Christians," and I'm borrowing it, as it's apt here. (I haven't any clue about the original person who originated this phrase; I have heard it countless times.)
This may have originated as a well-meaning belief, with the teachers trying to point us all in the direction of the superiority of God's wisdom, His caring nature, His omniscience and His ability to meet all our needs. The problem is that this stark teaching cuts off some of the very people that the Lord Himself sends to us, to help us. It reminds me of the "helicopter parable." (I imagine that most of you have heard it in your churches, but if you haven't, I will be glad to share it with you, if you write me.)
In fact, the Lord didn't intend for us to live to ourselves, stuffing all our feelings and experiences inside. Rather, He built in us a need for, and ability to sustain, relationships. And in fact if we are not open to this, while it may be borne of past hurts, it also just may be due to an arrogant spirit.
One of the most beautiful stories of friendship is the Biblical story of David and Jonathan:
(1 Sam 18:1 NRSV) When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
It is God's intent that we share in each other's high and low moments, that we are, to quote another modern-day parable, "someone with skin on" for one another. Christian friendship is a vital part of the Christian life.
(Rom 12:15 NRSV) Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
Logically speaking, we can't obey Paul's exhortation, if we don't know share to those joys and sorrows in the first place.
(Eccl 4:9-12 NRSV) Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Yes, we should turn to God; that should be our "First Response" when we have a problem. But we needn't stop there; we also need to find trustworthy, honest, discreet (I can't emphasize this enough; a blabbermouth or gossip just makes things worse), loyal Christian friends, and it works both ways. We need to be prepared to be a David or Jonathan to someone, as well. Even Christ Himself had a close "band of brothers" ©.
When someone is struggling with sin, instead of judging them and saying harsh words to them, we need to pray for them and encourage them to follow God's best for them. It's amazing how bad people's timing is in this area, when they aren't sensitive to the holy Spirit; I have seen so many Christians' spirits crushed by a harsh word at a vulnerable moment. Jesus saved his harsh words for the arrogant, not the hurting and repentant.
1 Thess 5:14 (NASB) We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Please note that the only one Paul mentions as a candidate for admonishment, is the unruly, not the weak, or the fainthearted. He didn't instruct us to stand outside a funeral with placards, yelling at grieving parents about their loved ones going to Hell because of their lifestyle. He didn't say that we should condemn the weak for "not having enough faith." No*nbsp;- he used the words "encourage" and "help."
God put us in relationships, for His purposes.
I pray that we will all be open to the nudges of God's Holy Spirit, to be open to edifying friendships - whether the need is ours or someone else's.
To be continued.
Janice P. Moser