“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9 (NASB)
Sometimes, sadly, I think Christians can be the greatest hindrance to evangelizing. We get too caught up in doctrinal differences (which are often petty) and forget it’s about spreading the gospel message provided through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord.
Recently I attended a church where they use the King James Version of the Bible and no other. In fact, to them, reading anything else is basically heresy, as they believe the King James to be the inerrant, inspired and infallible word of God. So those who read other versions are avoided, in terms of fellowship at least. How sad. Don’t get me wrong, I was brought up hearing verses from the King James Bible, told that memorizing scriptures from it is easiest and also it is the most accurate. So I was told by well-meaning, believing Christians such as my father. I love the King James and Bible and have several copies of it today: the Old Scofield Study Bible, the Master Study Bible and other assorted copies. I think it is the most beautiful and not as hard to understand (for the most part) as some would have you think. But I also read the New King James, English Standard Version, New Living Translation, New American Standard Bible, New International Version and even the Message from time to time. I like to get different perspectives and see how they word different verses. Some fundamentalists might accuse me of looking for wordings that fit my theology or somehow change basic biblical doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just fun to look at things from different perspectives -and sometimes very enlightening. Besides, there are some occasions when what I think a word in English means is not what it meant when the text of the king James was penned over 400 years ago. However, aside from my difference of opinion with the preacher on the “KJV-only” issue, his preaching that night was right on. I would love to associate with him and his congregation more in the fellowship of the spirit and brotherhood of Christ, but that would mean adopting certain attitudes toward other Christians and beliefs that are contrary to what I feel in my heart is right and I refuse to do that. I have had enough ‘legalism’ for one lifetime. I don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression: there are lines I will not cross. There are versions of the Bible I will not read, such as the “New World Translation” widely used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are versions that I think go too far and I don’t recommend (but I won’t disassociate myself from a brother or sister who prefers it). However, there are beliefs I hold that are basic to my Christian faith, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, that I will not budge on. There is one path to God — through my Lord Jesus. His sacrifice is so great that there need be no other. I’m not a “universalist” who thinks there are several paths to salvation — I only know of one and it works for me. I don’t judge those of other faiths, I leave that to God. I believe His word and will tell people about it when the opportunity arises. I owe it to those who do not know Jesus to tell them how great He is and of God’s plan for them. There’s too much at stake to keep it secret!
All too often we separate ourselves from each other over petty differences that [I suspect] may matter more to us and they do to God. I wish we could focus more on the love of almighty God our Father as shown to us through Jesus and through the gift of the Holy Spirit that continues to empower our faith. I know how desperately I needed to find out about that grace — available to me simply by placing my trust in His love and accepting the wonderful gift of salvation available through the blood of Jesus as atonement for my sin.
If you’re reading this because you’re searching for something, I hope you give Jesus a chance and make Him the Lord of your life. If you have done so, I hope that I have given you things to pause and ponder in your daily walk with Him.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (NASB)