16 November 2013

The Prime Danger Of Being Reformed

I’m proud to be reformed. I’m proud to be a five pointer. Don’t get me wrong. Being reformed doesn’t make me proud – at least I hope it doesn't – but rather, I am ready to wear my convictions on my sleeve. I am not ashamed of them.

However, there are times when I find myself ashamed of wearing the reformed colours. There are times I walk away from a discussion or meeting embarrassed to be associated with my own. The compelling convictions of the reformed faith have a tendency to make one think they are more superior and knowledgeable than the rest. And when I see this happening I, to some degree, despise myself and my own.

Paul, aware of this danger for those who espouse to the truth, elevates love over knowledge in one instance saying in effect, better an ignoramus who loves than a know-it-all who doesn’t and again, in a different instance, elevates love over even faith and hope. In 1 Corinthians 8.1, he says knowledge puffs up but love builds up going on to say in effect that the minute you think you know it all is the very minute when you must realized that you’ve missed it! It's not likely that you'll find a reformed person claiming to know it all but sometimes we behave like it! And do not be deceived, actions do, in fact, speak louder than words. In 2 Corinthians 15.2, Paul says, faith and hope are great but the greatest thing is love. Knowledge is good. But without the endearing ingredient of love, it can be an ugly, obnoxious and repugnant thing. Elsewhere, he encouraged that truth be shared but with one qualification, that it be done ‘in love’ (Ephesians 4.15).

Too many times, the language, both audible and visible, of reformed people is indicative of a people who look down and despise others for their beliefs and convictions that are contrary to the teachings of scripture.

I recently came across some reformed brethren saying in a rather public forum that the belief that one can cover their houses and cars in the blood of Jesus, as many believe, was ‘silly’ and ‘rubbish’. And an individual who practiced this covering of property in the blood of Jesus witnessed it all. A few Sundays ago, someone called the catholic church 'unserious' in a meeting where, unaware to them of course, at least one catholic person was present. The response from the audience was laughter and I think I laughed too. No doubt, that person won’t be visiting our church or any Reformed church any time soon. That’s the kind of thing I am talking about.

The paradox here is that the reformed faith emphasizes God and de-emphasizes us, that’s what I find compelling about it in fact. It takes the man off the center of the stage removing the stage lights off him and illuminates God, putting Him on center stage instead.

Take limited atonement for instance. Christ died for some and not all. And those for whom he died were chosen not because of anything good in them but by his grace alone. How does one come away from such a doctrine and bash other people for wrong beliefs and convictions? It’s a contradiction. What about irresistible grace? You do not come to God by your own strength and desire but by the irresistible call of the Spirit. It’s not you, it’s God. Yet with that kind of knowledge we go on to look down on those who refute the teachings of scripture. It doesn’t make any sense.

It could be that our knowledge ends in our heads but doesn’t successfully make it down to our hearts to effect change in our lives. In which case, the ignorant are better than us, at least they have an excuse.
For many though, it could be mere ignorance, a bashing of people who hold on to wrong doctrine that happens unawares for them. Whether it’s the former or latter, we all need to repent and realize that we embrace truths we hold on to simply because the Spirit has been pleased to reveal them to us through His word. We are not smarter and we are certainly not superior. Those who remain misled and misguided are not stupid. They are simply what we were before God was pleased to open our eyes to the truth. Shame on us if we think we’re any better, shame on us if we sit on the truth and shame on us if we share it but fail to do so in love.