It's both not either, or

It’s Both

Nathan Smith Christian Maturity, Perspective

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I’ve just returned home from a great weekend of leading worship and traveling with one of my best friends. God did amazing things and it was such a privilege to serve the people and ministries that we got to connect with while on the road.  Every environment was different, as were the people.  One of the things we considered regularly while interacting with each different group of people was how easy it can be to settle into one way of thinking and completely dismiss a group of people in the ‘other camp’.  God makes it clear over and over in scripture that His Church is a ‘many remembered body’ meaning that we all play different roles and function in different ways so that every aspect of ‘the body’ would be realized.  The truth is, it can be very uncomfortable to interact with those that have a different expression or celebrate certain aspects of the faith morseso then the group that you worship with does.  We have a tendency to pull to one side or another but the truth is, it is the tension that makes the music.  When we refuse to engage in that tension, the ‘song’ our life is singing goes flat fast.

The concept of ‘both’ is such a wonderful thing in many areas of our lives.  Chocolate or vanilla?  BOTH!  Live sporting event or giant TV monitor?  BOTH!  Swimming pool or beach?  BOTH!  There are many places in life where we have embraced the strength of both without apology.  Why is it then, that when it comes to worshiping alongside each other or serving the Lord in the different ways that He calls us to serve we begin to lose our ability to celebrate both?  I don’t claim to have that figured out but I can offer some thoughts that my buddy Mike and I pondered over the past days.  Much of it comes down to fear as expressed through ignorance, arrogance or self-righteousness.  The ‘fun’ thing about ignorance, arrogance and self-righteousness is that we can generally discover these attributes operating in our own lives when we are accusing others of operating in them.  We are uncomfortable with the position or expression of a certain person or group so we criticize them and create distance in order to feel safe, smart or holy. The irony though is that when we do that we marginalize a part of the body of Christ that we could benefit and learn from.  (Click here to read ‘Confessions of an Idealist’)

How Can I Know I’m Right?

Of course, there are heretical positions and doctrinal fallacies that need to be corrected or addressed.  I’m not, in any way, saying that everyone is right about everything all the time or that we should ignore serious Biblical sins.  We don’t have to go that deep to find the kind of divisions I’m talking about.  We’re still dividing over ‘pews versus chairs’ or ‘hands raised vs hands by your side’.  What I am saying is that we can learn a lot about God and each other when we work together, operate with patience towards one another and remain humble in circumstances that make us uncomfortable.  As we prioritize the relationships we build in that process, together we can discover errors in our thinking or theology and can find ways to move forward that we could never discover when we are shouting at each other from across the room or across the internet.  (Click here to read ‘It’s Worth The Weeds’)

So, are we to be about the gifts of the Spirit or the fruit of the Spirit?  Both.  Is it evangelism or discipleship?  Both.  Is it about global outreach or local?  Both.  Is it about being budget conscious or living by faith?  Both.  And on and on.  What makes us uncomfortable with the ‘both’ message is that when you embrace the value and necessity of both you will have to pray and trust God on when to lean which direction.  That makes us look vulnerable and can cause us to be misunderstood.  We would rather not do that.  We are more comfortable with picking a side and then automating the rest of our decisions based on the side we are on.  The lie of ‘either or’ allows us to do that.  But when we embrace the ‘both, and’ of the Gospel we HAVE to be Spirit-lead in nearly every aspect of our lives.  That is uncomfortable.  That is challenging.  That requires faith and a lot of humility.  And THAT sounds like the Kingdom.  (Click here to read ‘When Wanting To Do The Right Thing is Wrong’)

Don’t settle for the lie of ‘either or’.  Embrace the Kingdom of God that is both Spirit and Truth, Head and Heart, Powerful and Restrained, Justice and Mercy. Live in the tension that requires you to lean not on YOUR OWN understating but in ALL YOUR WAYS submit to Him.  The Proverb says that when we do that, HE will make our paths strait.  And HE is much better at that than any of us will ever be.  God is for you today and so am I.

From the Bible

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV 

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. – John 4:24 NLT 

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:14-15 NAS

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