This was not a planned topic when the series on Doctrine was first conceived. The title appears to be inconsistent in seeking to distinguish between true and false doctrine. That notion may well change as we progress forward in this article.
The subject of building a wall has been front and center in the recently concluded campaign for the USA presidency. A prevailing argument against the building of a wall is the resulting alienation and exclusion of people seeking a better opportunity. It sounds good and certainly appeals to the sensibilities of compassionately minded people. This argument is then taken further by using this opportunity to connect and build needed bridges between cultures for the betterment of the populace. Once again few would argue at these well-intended objectives. There are prominent voices who have been speaking out on this particular subject; voices of influence who have been effective in helping to shape opinion in the American Political Universe. One voice in particular made the following statement three days before the USA election: “…not to give into the fear of building walls but instead work to build bridges.”
The topic of bridge building is a term I have used in seeking to make a mutually benefitting connection with the younger generation. It is more than just passing a baton but rather a means of drawing the best of both sides for the advancement of the kingdom. The question we must ask is on what basis are we looking to establish that bridge and connection; what do I have to offer that may benefit the younger generation? There must be a basis (wall) that gives me credibility and influence that will help strengthen that connection. It is not enough to merely find common areas of interest for the sake of connection, there must also be an experience, a standard and example that a young person can draw from. Jesus was the master at bridging relationships with all manner of people. He ministered in love and compassion; at the same time Jesus established walls and boundaries that showed people how they were to live. This is often the missing component on this subject of walls and bridges.
In March of 1982, I had an encounter with God while living in a backslidden state. God came into my room after a night of doing alcohol and drugs. I felt His love coming over me like a torrential river. There was no ability to love myself yet his love just kept coming. I had a “head knowledge” about what His love meant but never experienced anything like this. That night served as a catalyst for change and since then I never looked back. God bridged across all boundaries that night and it was transformational. There was also the clear instruction of the need to make changes in my life. God made it known that I could no longer live my life as a hypocrite. The Lord established walls and boundaries to help protect me while bringing me into a new level of relationship with Him. In short, there were laws and boundaries that had to be observed.
Much of our theology today focuses solely on the love of God. Yes, he demonstrated His love to us while we were yet sinners but that does not mean we are to remain that way. (Rom 5:8) Jesus healed and forgave many people but He added that they were to go and sin no more. (John 5:14, 8:11)
There is an alarming trend that is observable in both the world and church; bridges are being made at the expense of Truth and God’s law. The Bible gives the account of Nimrod who founded Babel. He had a charisma that enabled him to draw mankind unto himself. His influence was so strong that he effectively bridged relationships with many people groups. The resultant unity was something that God found to be noteworthy. (Gen 11:6) Is this not a picture of what will take place in the last days? Nimrod introduced a new theology that gained traction amongst the masses. What will be the prevailing problem at the time when these “bridging relationships” take place? In a word LAWLESSNESS.
The purpose of walls is to establish boundaries from which proper “bridging” can take place. When God’s laws become diminished it opens the doors for other “influences” to enter in. This ultimately results in a new theology that contains universal qualities that much of the world could accept and agree to. At its core is defiance towards God and His laws. Nimrod effectively bridged relationships with people outside the parameters of God’s established boundaries represented by Truth and Law. It is a doctrine where man serves God on his terms while utilizing the Biblical concepts of love, compassion and understanding. Much of the world can connect and bridge along these lines but what about the church? Is this trend gaining traction amongst the people of God?
A significant voice recently exhorted the church to apologize to the homosexual community for helping to contribute to their being marginalized in society. All would agree that there is no room for violence and unfair discrimination against members of the gay community. Is it wrong however to have established walls of moral teaching in place that will help make a way for effective bridging between the church and homosexuals? I believe people who are in this lifestyle should be welcomed into churches. At the same time I also believe that the truth of God’s Word must be presented in love to give such a person the opportunity to respond and repent. There needs to be such walls otherwise the church becomes a gathering of people groups who are not anchored to a moral compass of reference. Yes, we are to love and extend the goodness of God to all but we must also be faithful in presenting the Truth. This is where today’s church needs to be very careful. The subject of sin and truth is being redefined for the purpose of connecting with a broader base of the populace.
Jesus bridged relationships with many people to the point where they wanted to promote Him as king. (John 6:15) He quickly sought to reinforce the true purpose for His ministry by presenting the message of the Cross. This was His wall and reference point from which he derived His ministry. It offended many causing multitudes to no longer follow Him. (John 6:60) Is this the theology and doctrine we employ today? Loving God with our hearts, mind and strength means that we are to live by His Laws and boundaries. (Math 22:36-40)
John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
These are the walls of salvation that protect us while helping to promote the kingdom of God’s in its fullness. There is a bridging taking place in the church that connects on love, compassion, inclusion etc that is void of Truth. The Word of God takes a back seat as a new pseudo-theology is introduced finding broad appeal amongst many Christians. It’s a theology that is attractive, a theology that will grow churches and congregations but in the end a theology that leads to Babylon. It is the tale of Nimrod and the tower of Babel all over again. (Gen 11, Rev 17-18)
The recent US election contains many lessons from which we can glean insight. I now share this final insert in closing. The New York Times newspaper recently featured an influential church leader whose church and ministry is based in New York City. The article showcases his ability in being able to bridge relationships across societal and religious lines. Well known public figures such as athletes, entertainers and other influential people help constitute portions of his congregation. The article concluded with the testimony of the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who shared of her being comforted whenever calling this leader for prayer. Her position is fraught with tremendous pressures and challenges that would wear down any person and one fully understands the blessings of needed prayer. In recent weeks it had come to light that this chairwoman interfered with the election process by leaking questions to a candidate prior to certain debates. It occurred on at least two occasions according to reports. Soon after this disclosure became public the DNC chairwoman defiantly proclaimed on national television the following quote:
As a Christian woman, I understand persecution. your information is false. What you’re — well, for suggestive e-mails were stolen. You’re interested and you’re like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that.
The exchange with the news interviewer was a heated one but it soon came to light that the charge being made was true. I share this example with sadness and it prompts me to ponder over the following question: How does this influential pastor feel about this disclosure; has he sought to reach out to this woman and present Truth in love? I certainly hope that he has had opportunity to do so. It concerns me that a statement can be made about being a Christian while defining persecution as a result of doing something wrong and illegal. Is this a new theology which makes allowance for wrongdoing without opportunity for true repentance? Where is the ministry of John the Baptist that establishes the means for the “axe to be laid to the root”? (Math 3:10) The message of establishing bridges is an important one but it must never be void of walls based on the Rule of Law. I do pray that this woman receives good counsel and comes to a place of repentance. It is dependent on the church leader(s) to major on Truth; the godly walls of reference found in God’s Word to help give that opportunity. To date there does not appear to be fruits meet for repentance. In the end it is the Pastor and Leaders that will be held accountable if they fail in their priestly role. It is easy to establish bridges without walls; it is another thing to bridge from a position of Doctrinal Integrity.
I felt prompted to put this message of “walls and bridges” into this series on Doctrine. We must be aware of this “new theology” that is gaining acceptance amongst many Christians. You will hear this term used in the days to come; be sure to listen for it and see how it is applied. It is important to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the church today. The keeping of right doctrine will help to preserve and prepare for all that God has in store in the days to come.