If we Independent Baptists were to practice real introspection and ask ourselves what is the worst crime that comes out of the issues we struggle with at times, what would it be? In this series I have slammed the pettiness that overtakes our movement at far too many points often. You may think that pettiness is annoying at most and not the biggest of problems, that it is of the roll-your-eyes variety. Could it be more?
Well, it comes across as a big deal to those who practice it. These pettiness perpetrators have presented it as life and death. To them, music, dress standards, and other extra-biblical issues are the Christian life, or so they come across. Some are offended to be told they come across that way, but it the subject most often on their lips, and the key element in how they size up other Christians. Strangely, pride, arrogance, temper issues, rudeness and the like are rarely discussed while going to a movie theater might prove once and for all someone’s spirituality or the lack thereof! Before you think I am too dramatic, I personally know far more people who have been shunned or separated from because of these petty issues than any of the aforementioned spiritual problems.
Let’s look beyond the individual elements that make up the pettiness and instead consider its impact in toto. How serious is it? Let’s consider it in light of a very possible future scenario. How will this pettiness appear to all of us if intense persecution comes?
If we must worship, as some other Christians have done, with a whisper so we can hear the footsteps of the authorities coming to get us, will these petty issues matter? If we are secretly meeting in the woods in the winter for church, will her pair of pants matter? If someone risks his life to share the Gospel, will you be obsessed with the rhythm of the music he listened to that morning? If she shares her food with you, will you care that she would go see a movie at a theater if she could? If you met one not ashamed to mention the name of Jesus, would you really write him off if a buddy said he was liberal and should be separated from? No, so why now? Only times of plenty can afford pettiness.
You may say, these issues are not petty to me. Well, to you I ask, will they honestly matter if being a Christian is itself life and death? You may say yes, but I humbly submit that I do not believe you. The potential of persecution has never been greater in America, so our pettiness grows ever more ludicrous. When it comes, we will remember in our pain the waste involved in our pettiness and weep. That is, too, the worst crime.
Find all articles in the series here.
8 thoughts on “The Worst Crime (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #22)”
I appreciate your call for perspective here. It is important to put the right priorities on our beliefs, especially when our movement has lost that perspective. However, perhaps this is too strict of a filter. We are able to live in a free country where we can exercise our faith in the most biblical way possible. I agree that it is wrong to elevate outward standards over attitude/spirit problems, but I don’t believe we should be forced to choose between the two. You are right to use the persecution lens to identify the most important issues, but perhaps we should not use it exclusively.
Thank you for your work here.
I see your point. On the other hand, petty things, as opposed to real biblical admonitions, simply can’t up in the light of such a comparison.
Thanks for commenting! Enjoy getting other’s perspectives!
I must agree with Mr. Reagan here. Lets face it, there is persecution coming. Each day the Spirit bears testimony through our lives that we have had it far to good for far too long and I would gladly accept a sandwich for my children from a woman wearing pants, outside of a theater, with an amplified contemporary band playing on a flatbed trailer.
This is absolutely wonderful, you hit the nail on the head! As a pastor I simply ask other pastors this: what kind of ministry would you have if you truly didn’t care what your peer group thought? Are you majoring on the issues the Bible majors on? I find these issues, these Biblical issues dealing with my heart and inner man much more than my external conformity.
We have no idea what it’s like to be in a truly hard place! I heard the Northeast was hard many times, yet I’ve been here two years and haven’t faced persecution even once! What I have found is people hungry for the Word of God, and the precious truths contained within its pages.
Thanks for this post Bro. Reagan, I thought of your family this morning and the new church God has placed you in to minister.
You are so right! Our peer group has had the worst of impacts on us, yet we are responsible to our Lord and not our peer group.
Thanks for the encouragement. It is exciting what The Lord has done in sending you to the northeast. May God bless you and your family!
I think I agree but perhaps a little clarification would help. If I am a leader in your church or just a member, would I be in good standing if I drank socially? Would I be in good standing if I went to the theater to see Hollywood movies? Would I be in good standing if I had a personal conviction against going to the theater? Would I be in good standing if I was unfaithful to the services of the church? Would I be in good standing if I encouraged unfaithful members to be faithful? Would I be in good standing if my wife wore short shorts? Would I be in good standing if I privately and discreetly talked another member who dressed immodestly? Or are all these kind of things just petty?
I know that my salvation is settled. Nothing can separate us from our salvation, regardless of our behavior. We are accepted in the beloved. Once we are accepted in, is all behavior acceptable? However, is there any kind of behavior that God would frown on? Is it still possible for a child of God to make God sick, like the church at Laodicea did? Does God still point out the sin of His children as He did the sins of the seven churches of Revelation?
I think perhaps, Bro. Jimmy, that some might take your article as if because we are forgiven, now any kind of conviction or standard is just petty. Wearing his military uniform may seem petty to a Marine, but I doubt seriously that it is considered petty by the USMC. Many of the commands given a Marine may seem petty to the Marine but disobeying an order is never petty. I believe your heart is in the right place but not everyone has your discernment.
Romans 14:15 says, “But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably, Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” Romans 14:20,21 says, “All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense.” It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Verse 22 says, Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in the thing which he alloweth.
I am sure that you know this better than me, but our God is a legal God. He is righteous and just. When we trusted Him, He legally declared us righteous. We are not righteous, He declared us righteous legally through the offering of His Son. I am not declared righteous because of anything I have done or can do. It is God that justifieth the ungodly.
Legalism is not legality. Legalism adds what we do or do not do to what God has done that we might be declared righteous. I am accepted in the beloved but I am certain there have been many times when my behavior was not acceptable to God, and that does not make me a legalist.
You have some great points. I am glad your comments are here for others to consider. As you say, “Legalism is not Legality.”
I would like to clarify a few points about what I am saying in this article and all the others in the series.
1. All the questions in your first paragraph are answered by whether the Bible specifically mentions them. There is, as the Bible says, nothing new under the sun. There may be new technology to carry the age-old sins a little farther, but it is the same old sins that plague us.For example, the Bible says nothing about watching a movie at a theater, especially in distinction to watching a movie anywhere else. That is someone’s personal standard, not the Word of God. A movie with filth would violate the Word of God. To make a point where God has not is my definition of petty.
2. Anyone has a right to honor the Lord as their consciences dictate with a personal standard in matters not addressed in Scripture. They should not be criticized for such.
3. No one has a right to demand their personal standards on others when not specifically in Scripture. It violates the priesthood of believers. They should not criticize or degrade others who simply do not agree with them on issues not discussed in the Bible. The Lord’s direction on this matter is clear–each person seek Him.
4. Many individuals, churches, and groups have caused division, which is addressed in Scripture, and should be held to account for violating clear Scripture in their treatment of others in forcing standards and making it the basis of an unscriptural separation.
5. To clarify, a standard is not petty, but pushing it on others is. It sets one up as worthy of finishing the Words of God where He has not spoken. That is wrong on the deepest level. I believe the Scriptures from Romans cited above are proof positive of what I am saying here. I am not trying to disparage anyone over their standards, to my mind they may have all they like, but they should not attack others who do not find merit in their standards.
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