Being Right is Not the Most Important Thing

As I was growing up, it always seemed to me that being right was the most important thing. That having the correct set of beliefs and doctrine were what mattered the most to God.

However, in the last 10 years or so I have come to a different conclusion. God is not impressed with our knowledge and rightness of doctrine. He does not applaud our understanding of church practice and end-times truth.

The need for truth

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that God does not want us to study the scriptures. I’m not suggesting that He does not care about our search for truth. These are absolutely vital to our growth as followers of Jesus.

What I am saying is that this line of thinking – that He mostly cares about what we know – is what has led so many churches to split and has caused much damage. A simple look back at the history of the brethren movement will suffice to show this truth in obvious detail.

Back to where we started

I absolutely love the foundation of the brethren movement, but sadly we have moved far away from it.

Anthony Norris Groves once said, “… we are evidently called to know nothing among our fellow Christians but this one fact, do they belong to Christ? Has Christ received them? Then may we receive them, to the glory of God.”

Sadly, somewhere along the way, the understanding of Truth became more important than the spiritual condition of a believer. So much so, that unless a person agreed with the exact parameters of a brethren assembly they were not welcome. Even more appalling is that they were looked down upon.

Separation became king

Separation became the main goal instead of loving Unity. Quoting Groves again, “I would infinitely rather bear with all their evil,” he said of some people with whom he seriously disagreed, “than separate from their good. “

We have unfortunately lost much joy, fellowship, and unity with brothers and sisters who do not think exactly as we do. Even more unfortunate is that we have lost the opportunity to reach the world around us by joining forces in the gospel.

Pride has held us back

I truly believe that our pride, thinking that we are right and others are wrong, has kept us from a powerful work of the Holy Spirit. God cares much more about our relationship with Him, our attitude towards others, and our zeal for the lost than He does about how much we know. 1 Samuel 15:22; 16:7; Luke 18:10-14 are just a few examples of this principle.

A wonderful change is happening

I’m encouraged that many Brethren assemblies are rising above this pride and are doing great things as we approach the Lord’s return. This means shaking off the chains that have held us down and freeing ourselves to serve the Lord in more powerful ways.

Many assemblies are reviving (and growing) due to their return to a simple relationship with Christ, very much like the early brethren when they left their denominational structures to follow the Lord.

Following God, not men

This is not easy of course. In the face of traditional opposition, we are commanded to follow God, not men. 

Again, I am not referring to specific traditions, although shedding some of them is a part of this revival. I am referring to the attitude and the misguided belief that being right is more important than anything else.

God is big. So big that He is beyond anything we can imagine or understand. But as equally astounding as His wisdom and knowledge is His love. 

Where do we go from here?

Well, that is an article for another day. 🙂 One thing is for sure, we start a return to Christ by repenting. Each individual and each local church will need to determine the exact specifics about their repentance (Rev. 2&3).

It requires an acknowledgment that we have strayed from the Word of God and have lost the deep desire to do what it says.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Avatar

    6 Comments

  1. Janice Nicholson

    I find my greatest triumphs is when I confess a sin and ask for God to help me overcome it to never commit it again. And the best knowledge to me is when I actually experience the character of the God I read about. I don’t need to know the terminology of it to know it and experience it and embrace it and snuggle right into His embrace and enjoy His presence! Thank you for expressing this need in our assemblies! I enjoy learning from gifted and knowledgeable people but the value does seem to be misplaced when those things are lifted up more than showing unbiased love.

    Reply

  2. Avatar

    Crawford has nailed it. Doctrine, as important as it is, cannot be compared to the virtues of love, humility and the esteem of others — the things from which all doctrine hinges. Even with those believers we disagree with. In other words, we can learn something from every genuine child of God — as Christ is in all of us, doing a work. Despite our prideful brokenness. There is yet hope as long as we cherish the fact that it is only Christ that binds every believer and not any lesser value.

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    It is rightly said that the great sin of evangelicalism is that it derives its life from its (assumed/supposed) orthodoxy and not from Jesus Himself.

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    Well, Crawford, you did it again. So right (even though it doesn’t matter as much as we thought)! In some environments it really does feel like we are saved by our correct theology. Glad to see this emphasis eroding a bit.

    Reply

  5. Avatar

    In my limited reading of “assembly” history I have been greatly saddened by some of the accounts of division. And I have seen first hand the fruits of that in the area in which I live—there are at least two “closed” assembly groups in my area that do not have fellowship with each other or with the “open” assemblies that I am part of—I wonder if at this point anyone that is part of these assemblies even knows why we don’t/can’t have fellowship. If it saddens us, how much more our Lord must be grieved by it.

    But that being said, I do feel the need to highlight what I believe is a serious concern with one of the quotes from Anthony Norris Groves. Groves stated “I would infinitely rather bear with all their evil,” he said of some people with whom he seriously disagreed, “than separate from their good. “

    “Evil” is a very strong word. One online dictionary defines the English word “evil” as “profoundly immoral and wicked.” Are we to understand Groves as saying that he “would infinitely rather bear with all of their profound immorality and wickedness” rather than separate from them?

    We are called by the Scriptures to bear with one another in a variety of ways. We are to bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2). We are to bear with the infirmities of the weak (Romans 15:1). We are to bear with one another in differences of understanding regarding “secondary” issues, especially those that are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16). But this is not what Groves is saying—he is saying that he is willing to bear with evil, and we are never called to bear with evil within the church. When evil doctrine started making inroads into the region of Galatia, Paul did not tell them to bear with it for the sake of unity. When evil behavior made its way into the church at Corinth, Paul told them to put it out from their midst—in fact, he told them not even to eat a meal with professing Christians whose behavior was evil (1 Corinthians 5:11, 13).

    Perhaps the context of this statement within Groves’ writings would shed some understanding upon his intention. Perhaps it was simply a poor word choice on his part. Perhaps he was using the word “evil” in a hyperbolic or even sarcastic sense, although this doesn’t seem to agree with the fact that “he seriously disagreed” with these people. But this is all speculation—my concern is that the plain reading of this quote is alien to, and in direct conflict with, scripture. It would be sad indeed if someone was to read this quote from a godly and respected brother and conclude that we today should therefore tolerate evil in our local churches for the sake of unity.

    But in a more general sense, I would also suggest that we need to be careful not to create a false dichotomy that puts doctrine and loving unity at odds with one another. I sense that some, and perhaps even many Christians today seem to feel that we must choose between being careful with our doctrine and dwelling together in loving harmony–that somehow the two are mutually exclusive.

    The Scriptures reveal that our Lord Jesus Christ came from the Father “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 18). Doctrinal truth and loving graciousness were never at odds with each other within our Savior. We are called to walk as our Savior walked (1 John 2:6), and we are told that it is God’s desire that we be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). As such it seems evident to me that our lives should likewise be characterized by both grace and truth—not either/or.

    Scripture calls us to “walk…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). But Scripture also calls us to “give attention to…doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13), to “take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:16), and to be “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In fact, the word “doctrine” occurs 15 times in the three short books of 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus, which were all written by Paul to younger men.

    I understand and agree with your concern when “being right becomes the most important thing” and when accumulating Bible knowledge becomes the supreme goal—this is unbalanced and wrong. But there are many today who promote a distorted and unbalanced view of Christian love, and we don’t in response suggest that we should place less emphasis on love, but rather that we need to bring truth to bear on the issue—i.e., that truth is lacking. Yet it is my impression that when conflict or problems arise and doctrine is involved, the “go-to” response by many is that we need to be less focused on doctrine, rather than considering that the real solution may likely be found with an increase in love and grace. Again, we are called to walk in grace and truth, and problems arise when either is lacking.

    I don’t know anything about your assembly or its history, and I am not in a position of visiting a lot of other assemblies. But we live in a hyper-busy world with a myriad of distractions which can easily keep believers away from the Word of God. Add to this the existence of ready access to a lot of questionable if not downright false teaching via the internet, and I have to wonder if we shouldn’t be placing more emphasis, and not less, on the importance of doctrine.

    Reply

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST POSTS