Can your accusations of other’s being apostates, be making you an apostate?
Apostate: a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle.
Apostasy: the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle.
I always appreciate anyone’s passion and love for following Jesus. I am also not opposed to nor a stranger to debate… however, when one’s opinions begin to lead to side choosing and accusations, then I believe we find ourselves on shaky ground.
Over the past couple years, the word apostate has been thrown around like a weapon, pointed at brothers and sisters as a “one size fits all” accusation of modern-day heresy. However, there is something you might take into consideration. Firstly, it’s a word with a 2000-year-old meaning, which is hotly debated and not fully understood. If you go with the basic English translation of “leave, depart or be away from,” what does being an apostate mean?
If someone walks away from the institutional church and is questioning the Bible to rediscover…whatever they are searching for, is that apostasy? Well, perhaps it could be, depending on the individual, but when Thessalonians 2:3-4 is read in context regarding a “man of lawlessness”, I think judgments of apostasy can be overkill:
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” Thessalonians 2:3-4
Unjustly accusing one of His children of that magnitude of evil, could in itself be considered apostasy or more accurately heresy (to use another old misunderstood word), which literally means “dissent.”
Heresy: belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.
I think when someone says apostasy, they really mean to say: “I don’t agree with what that person is doing or saying!” What if instead of doing the “Lord’s work” by voicing your opinions, you are taking your own convictions and standards and placing them onto others? What if, when Paul said (under grace) “all things are permissible, but not all beneficial” it was true? (1 Corinthians 6:12). What if there are far more verses in the New Testament about love and forgiveness then discipline and confrontation? Even when we do encounter real issues in the church, Paul says to restore those caught in sin gently. (Galatians 6:1)
1 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)
Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
Also, what about “above all protect the unity of the body”? (Ephesians 4:3) Personally, I want to work with all Jesus followers, from all denominations TOGETHER to share the love of Jesus Christ to all 7.5 billion people because God is great, not because I’m right on this subject- but ripping ourselves apart because of disagreements is not only foolish but if you believe in the Bible… IT IS NOT ALLOWED.
If all that is not enough to convince us that we should make every attempt to love FIRST, then consider this list:
- Paul said even if someone is preaching the gospel only to make money at least the gospel is being preached!
- Forgive 70×7 (Matthew 18:22)… 490 times for one deed is a lot!
- Unity in the body (Ephesians 4:3).
- How should we be identified by the world? By our unified convictions? No! By our LOVE for one another (John 13:35)
- What about Jesus’s life? Chuck Missler once said, “The Pharisees were Bible-believing, charismatic evangelicals. They believed everything we do, yet they spoke with Jesus face to face and missed him!!”
I have a tough question to ask, and if you are brutally honest with yourself, if you accept the teeth grinding, heat under the collar and waves of competitive juices telling you to “fight back”, but still choose to consider that God might be trying to challenge your heart, I guarantee you’ll begin to discover a spiritual life for more rich and exciting than you can possibly imagine. I did.
Here’s the question: Are you so sure of your opinion, that no matter what, you’ll hold on to it?
Unfortunately, so were the Pharisees and in doing so, they will always be known for crucifying Jesus, now that’s some first-rate apostasy!
Oh, but they obeyed the law, they “did” everything and “said” everything right, but their hearts were hard and thorny, no room for love, no room for the fruits of the spirit. But, you see, it was a tax collector named Matthew, a demon-possessed woman named Mary, an enemy occupying centurion plus numerous drunks and prostitutes who recognized and followed our Jesus.
But you may say “You don’t understand, Ryan! These leaders, these guys, their life choices are wrong!” Yeah, there’s a good chance you are right…so what?
“Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.”
What does your heart look like? Being right does not annul your duty in Christ to love….being wrong, even evil, didn’t keep Jesus from loving Judas or Peter. Both betrayed Him and Peter became the first leader of the church.
If Jesus showed that much patience and forgiveness, we had better be very slow to judge and extra quick to love, after all, I’ve needed that type of love and forgiveness many times…haven’t you?
By the way, let me assure you, as a former legalistic punk, I’d be the last one to judge or blame your current walk of faith. I lived a Pharisee’s life, pointing fingers at folks I didn’t agree with, for a long time, but a pursuit of being like Jesus forced me to ask some tough questions leading to an overhaul of my priorities.
If you ever want to chat about my journey into love. I’m available! Thousands of blessings and even more love on you all, Ryan