"Don't Hate The Player, Hate The Game!"
It's just another way of saying, "Don't Hate Me, This Is How The System Works!"
I thought about that today, but from a purely Christian perspective. Now, please don't take this to mean that I somehow think that being a Christian (and Christianity itself) is just a "game" in this life. I mean absolutely no disrespect whatsoever.
I'm just referencing this popular phrase to simply convey a point here today.
Lately, despite the fact that I know what the Word of God says about expecting this sort of thing, I've become increasingly frustrated and heartbroken by my brothers and sisters in Christ who refuse to take doctrine and practice in Christ's Church seriously.
Wait, let me rephrase that just a bit or else I'll be accused of being "hateful" and "mean-spirited" again.
What I mean to say is that no one likes to be confronted about what it is they actually believe, teach, and confess to make sure it's consistent with what they're supposed to believe, teach, and confess.
In short, and to use just a couple of recent examples from my personal life, Lutherans do not believe in "free will" and we sure as heck don't believe in the experiential, extra-Biblical nonsense popularized by Sarah Young's Jesus Calling bestseller either, and so we should never be promoting either of them to non-believers we encounter let alone to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Furthermore, Christians who stand up to preach God's Word from the pulpit/stage and who claim they only teach the truth of God's Word should be able to provide actual evidence of such claims in the form of audio/video of said sermons, because to refuse to share them with Christians who ask raises some red flags.
However, try pointing out the obvious of how all of this is completely inconsistent and incompatible with being a Lutheran (with being a Christian) and you're often ignored or ridiculed for making a mountain out of a molehill.
Push a little harder to bring that subject up for serious conversation and the offended party (parties) will go on the attack and try to marginalize you (if they don't succeed at driving you from the church first).
With all of that in mind, here's what I just shared on my Facebook page today...
Everyone wants to be liked. Unfortunately, that's not always possible, especially for Christians. Galatians 1:10 "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Yes, I'm afraid that sometimes "being a friend" means being willing to have that difficult conversation with a loved one that no one else in their life is willing to have with them -- even when you know there's going to be a personal cost involved and that you'll likely be hated for it and forever branded as being "divisive to the body of Christ" and "unloving" too despite being mindful of the "log in your own eye" (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42) first before any discussions are had.
Truth is, it doesn't matter how "loving" you are when you go about such things, because trying "to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42) is delicate work and it will always be somewhat painful to him/her since the truth will hurt like it's supposed to (when's the last time you got poked in the eye accidentally? it hurt really bad, didn't it?). Don't forget, the "Old Adam" within us will always seek to defend and preserve itself first before admitting that it was right for someone else to broach the subject with us in the first place. I get it, but it's still heartbreaking to go through such an experience, especially when you're immediately cast as "the bad guy" all the time too.
I mean, it's not that you just sit around all day waiting for an opportunity to play "Gotcha!" so you can point a finger at the faults and sins of a dear brother or sister in Christ. It's just bizarre though, because we all say we believe that the sin of believing false doctrine is responsible for damning a soul to hell, but then we never speak a single word against false doctrine when it's present in our lives (or the lives of those we love). Worse, we don't even think it's possible for us to fall for false doctrine ourselves or that it's even that big a deal! Seriously? Boy, you'd have to ignore quite a bit of the New Testament to believe that. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized."
Remember, even Proverbs 27:5-6 instructs us that "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Seems no one believes that anymore and so we "Go-Along-To-Get-Along" to preserve some facade of peace and unity. Unfortunately, peace and unity at the expense of Biblical truth (a.k.a. doctrine and practice) is not true peace and unity, my dear friends. That's why I can relate to St. Paul sometimes. Galatians 4:16 "Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?" I'm certainly no St. Paul (except for the "wretched man that I am!" part in Romans 7:24), but I have often asked the same question myself. What was true back then is still true today.
In case anyone thinks that me writing this suggests that I think I'm somehow all "high and mighty" or "better than you" let me just say that I am forever grateful for those complete strangers who the Lord brought into my life who were willing to speak "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) to me -- the cold, hard truth mind you -- at a time when my Christian family members and friends didn't care about me enough to do it themselves like they were expected to. But I forgive them. Besides, I can't help feeling like my sin of believing and spreading false doctrine was worse than their sin of inaction. James 3:1 "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness."
Thankfully, I have repented of those sins and I have been forgiven and redeemed from being deceived (and from indirectly deceiving others despite my sincerity and good intentions). Please understand that it's only because I know that it's quite possible for a Christian to be deceived about things (because I was that Christian!) that I sometimes reach out to those I care about. You don't have to take my word for it. Just take God at His Word. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough."
Whether you love me and hate me for it, I will never apologize for loving you enough to be willing to have that difficult conversation that others want to avoid like the plague. Why? I know the reality of Jesus' words when He said "and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
What else can I say?
In a Lutheran layman's terms, haters gonna hate.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!