Part One: FAVOUR WITH GOD & MAN
I have noticed a disturbing trend in Christianity over the years. Christians seem fascinated with labels and as the church, we love fitting anything and everything into categories.
Let me give you an example. You can be a Christian OR an atheist; if you are in church this morning most of you would consider yourselves Christian, but now as a Christian are you now Catholic OR Protestant? If you fall into the Protestant category are you Evangelical OR Orthodox? At My Victory, most of us would say Evangelical, but as an Evangelical are you baptist (which can mean vastly different things depending on whether you live in the US or Canada or the UK) or pentecostal? As a pentecostal are you Holiness Pentecostal OR Apostolic Pentecostal OR part of the River Movement OR OR OR... There are thousands of denominations, and each one carries it’s own label complete with guidelines for how they are supposed to operate. For instance; if you are from the United Church - most would consider you liberal. And if you are a certain type of Lutheran - you are legalistic.
It gets worse. Beyond our denominations we have created even more labels. We have the 'greasy gracers' or 'holiness movement', 'calvinists' or 'arminiests', 'seeker sensitive' or 'spirit filled', 'traditional' or 'emergent' church movement, hipster churches, etc. etc. etc.
But we all do it. We enter into conversations with other Christians that we don’t know and as quickly as we can we try to identify the camp they are in and if they say one thing we disagree with we place them into one of the enemy camps and dismiss everything else they have to say! They become one of 'those' people.
This is not at all what Jesus modelled for us! In fact, this tendency may be why He prayed this in one of His last prayers.
John 17:20-23 (NIV)
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
He could have prayed that we stay on the straight and narrow and that we remain theologically sound, but He didn’t. He prayed that we be one — in unity — so that the world would know Him.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—
He prays it again. He seems to be adamant about this point.
so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
This is a key to the world knowing and believing in Christ.
Now before we go on we need to realize that not all labels are bad. The Bible does say to label one group of people.
Romans 16:17 (KJV)
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Mark those who cause divisions among you. Avoid them. Let’s not be one of “them”. But outside of this divisive group,
when we label one another we are not practicing unity. We are not focusing on what we agree on but instead on what we differ on.
When we label one another it hurts. One of the labels that hurts me is when I get labeled “seeker sensitive” because we see souls saved in our church. Now, there is nothing wrong with being seeker sensitive and I always replay it’s better than being seeker insensitive, but it is the connotations that go with the label. The term seeker sensitive is generally used to describe churches that compromise the message and are against the working of the Holy Spirit. I love the Word! And I love the Holy Spirit! But instead labelling me as “seeker sensitive” OR “spirit filled”, why can’t I be both?
That’s what this series is about. It’s a Bible study in the word “AND”. Over the next few weeks we will tear down the labels that separate relationships and create disunity. Let’s replace our “OR’s” with “ANDs” and live in the power of unity.
The first AND I want to look at is found in Luke 2:52. It refers to Jesus when he was first born. Look what it says about Him.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
While there are 4 “ands” in this verse, there is one that jumps out at me. Favour with God AND man.
Think about it. It doesn’t say just in Favour with God. Many theologians claim Jesus was rejected by everyone so they justify doing church and living life just to please God and to be rejected like Jesus was rejected.
Yes, Jesus was rejected. But, not by the common folk. He was rejected by the religious elite. It was the religious that were offended with him, and when he did not fit within their own labels, they refused to listen to His wisdom. And yet thousands still followed Him and found Him and His gospel attractive. He grew in favour with man.
But He didn’t grow in just favour with man. He grew in favour with God. There are others who would compromise all that is right in order to please everyone. But this is not right. We must first live to please God and live according to His ways. Yes, some will not understand and some may sneer, but if you live to please God and stand according to His Word, you will be blessed and many will respect you because of this stance. Standing with God does not mean standing against men. It's not either or. It's AND.
Standing with God does not mean standing against men. Jesus grew in favour with God AND man. #thepowerofAND #myvictory