Unforeseen Discoveries

338613504_b6b5006bbfLife is a journey for each one of us.  Along our journey we encounter strange and wonderful surprises that touch our hearts.  In the very next moment, we stumble and trip on unforeseen and not-so-wonderful  jolts that bushwhack our perceptions and erode our expectations.

My particular journey through Christianity has been like this — full of both unforeseen surprises which have resulted in disappointment and amazing discoveries that have far exceeded my expectations.

This past Sunday was one of those unforeseen discoveries which resulted in a heavy sadness which settled deeply into my heart. We visited a small Reformed Church in the area to hear a speaker who teaches at a respected reformed seminary.  I absolutely love the deep stuff and any chance I get, I’ll seek it out.  I love to learn, especially about the God who created me…the God who loved me enough to save me…from myself and the sin which so easily entangles me.

My journey towards the Reformed Faith has not been an easy one, but my journey has clearly led me to this place.  The Reformed Faith has given me answers where previously I could not find them.  It has reflected a balanced and rational approach to Christianity and has preserved the strong tradition of faithfully adhering to God’s precious Word.

I was not born into a family that taught the Confessions to me nor did anyone teach the basic doctrines of the faith to me as a child.  I grew up hearing opinions instead of substance.  Yet, God was faithful to me – a child of His very own choosing.  Even as a small child, I knew God was in my life.  I always felt His Hand on my shoulder.  He dotted my journey with special people who greatly influenced my life but also empowered me with both the energy and desire to seek out and understand the truth found in His Word to us.

Back to my story.  I enjoyed the morning sermon so much that I came back for the evening service.  I soaked in each and every word – words that gave depth to the scripture passage being used in the service.  I envisioned the historical setting clearly as the speaker both eloquently and elaborately described the conditions in which the passage was set.  I thought to myself, “….if only others could hear this kind of teaching!”  Sadly, we live in an age where solid teaching is often absent and minimalized.

Halfway through the sermon, the tone of the speaker changed.  The passage we were studying was 1 Timothy 4 where Paul encourages Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and to teaching.  Paul reminds Timothy to have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths and to train himself for godliness.

As the speaker entered into this section of the text he explained how Gnostic teaching was prevalent in Timothy’s day.  He then compared Gnosticism to the aberrant ideology we face in today’s world.  There is no doubt that we live in a world that willingly believes silly myths over truth.  In this instance, he used the Mormon faith as an example of gnostic teaching in our generation.

Yes, I agree with the speaker.  There is a comparison that can be made between Gnosticism and Mormonism.  I had no problem with the analogy at all.  It was the way the analogy was presented that caused my heart to sink.  What could have been a simple exposition turned into a disrespectful and slightly arrogant analogy.  I don’t want to go into the details of what he said but I hope that he simply got carried away — perhaps he would never have wanted for his thoughts to come across this way — but they did.  Many of those sitting in the congregation laughed with him.  Their chuckles fed his wit and several more things were said.

3092101136_14194d7634And I sat there.  My head continued to sink down towards the Bible in my lap.  For the life of me, I could not understand why it was so funny that that sincere people were being misled by a false and aberrant religion.

You see, I have been that misled person.  I have felt the pain of being a true and diligent seeker who took a U-Turn here and there in my quest to deeply understand the truth of a sovereign and holy God.   I was that person who considered joining the Mormon Church because I saw they tried to live a worthy life.  I have been that sincere Christian whose heart so longed for God that she looked high and low for Him….that she never gave up on the quest.  Or rather, God never gave up on me.  Not having the benefit of a sound Christian upbringing, God and God alone was responsible for steering me in the right direction.  He never failed to be the expositor in my life, faithfully teaching me His truth in ways no human being could have accomplished.

As I sat there, I felt as if everyone in the room were laughing at me.  How stupid of me to be misled!  How silly that I would have made a mistake along the way.  How silly that at times in my life I may not have had all the answers correct.

The fact is:  the chuckles over the ignorance of uniformed and less than knowledgeable seekers should have been resonating sighs of hearts being broken within the congregation.  Our hearts should ache if even one soul is misled.  We should not laugh at their misfortune but instead should be willing to, with respect, teach and exhort the person who desires to find God.  God reminds us in Isaiah 66:2 that “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD.  But this is the one to whom I will look:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

May your heart break today for those who are misled.  May your heart break today for those who seek to understand God and try to find Him in all the wrong places.  May your heart break today that God loved you enough to save you from the sin that entangles each and every one of us — the very sin that condemned us to a life of wrath — the very sin that Christ died to save us from.

It is my prayer that each believer will, with respect, take the words of Paul to Timothy seriously.  We must train ourselves in the words of the faith and in good doctrine.  If we do so, others will see our progress and we will not need to explain our progress to them in arrogant words but instead will be a sound example of what the Christian life should look like.  A life that is humble and a spirit that is contrite.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17

Image 1 by Jurvetson (Creative Commons License)

Image 2 by John-Morgan (Creative Commons License)

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