Debbie and I just returned from a great trip visiting our church-planting pastors in India again. We had a wonderful time seeing our friends, seeking to encourage them with our words and prayers and love. And they encouraged us so much, to keep focused on the big picture.
Can you imagine a football team that practices only the basics of punting, blocking and correct footwork, but forgets that the ultimate purpose of the game is to move the ball down the field and score points? That’s hardly imaginable, is it? But sometimes that’s how we approach the Christian life.
As we grow in knowledge as Christians, we have a tendency to focus more and more on the details of Christian living (not wrong in itself), and forget that our main purpose here is to fellowship with the Living God and invite others to fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ as well. We lose sight of the forest because we are just looking at the trees. We get hung up on ‘churchianity’, and forget that this is supposed to be living in relationship with God.
Debbie and I observed the negative side of this while studying our family history in Europe. Very shortly after
rediscovering salvation by faith through grace alone, our spiritual ancestors began to focus on ‘details’ and lost sight of the big picture. Disputes arose over the meaning of Communion, the relationship of church and state, and especially over baptism. Believers began to separate from other believers over these disagreements. Soon major divisions arose in the church, and in those difficult days people even killed one another for having a different understanding of peripheral doctrines. Non-conformists were hounded out, driven from their homes and sometimes put to death for not agreeing with the established dogma. Christians killed other Christians, simply because they wanted to be baptized after coming to faith.
Visiting our brothers and sisters overseas reminded me of the cause for this. Because of the pressures they face in a largely non-Christian country, our church-planting pastors don’t worry about the intricate details of Christianity. They are forced, by persecution and pressure, to work together for the cause of Christ. Minor details that so easily divide us are not as critical for them. They are focusing on the big picture.
We need to pray for them, because there are some important details that can not be forgotten. Pray that they do not meander away from the Truth. But we also need to pray for ourselves, that we do not get so focused on the details that we forget the big picture.
Pastor John Wetzig
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