You know, I think there’s something really hilarious about the way in which God chooses to use ordinary people to do His works.
We humans have all these petty little denominations, groups, doctrinal positions, firmly-held beliefs, cults and other such ‘tribes’. And do you know what? God doesn’t care about all that stuff. He chooses to use those whose hearts are turned towards Him in signs, wonders, miracles and just everyday Kingdom stuff. He provides for us all, He walks with us all and most of all He loves us all.
When I was younger, I had very firmly-held doctrinal positions on most things, some of which were things to do with me, some of which were not.
I have friends who tease me and exchange tongue-in-cheek comments about their reliance on the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible as being the only, or at least the best, translation to use for all purposes. (Personally I prefer the 1978 New International Version (NIV) but not the newer NIV, although still there are some passages I feel are not expressed properly even then). Jesus heals people through those friends. I know people who are honestly struggling with the theology surrounding homosexual relationships. Jesus heals people through those friends, as well. I know churches where they are really legalistic; I know churches where it’s all about Grace. Jesus heals through those people. I know people who have addiction problems – with porn, alcohol, drugs, whatever. Guess what? Jesus heals….you get the idea.
A really funny thing for me is this: some people maintain that the Word of God is spoken, and then its authenticity is confirmed by the signs and wonders that follow. There’s lots of Scripture to back up this argument, and I will leave you to Google them for yourself. But you see this means that they then feel that the signs and wonders ‘prove’ that they are ‘right’.
And I kind-of agree, in essence. But for me the signs and wonders following do not necessarily mean that the people who spoke the ‘Word’ were necessarily entirely correct in their doctrine (if indeed there is such a thing), and God proved it by doing signs and wonders. If that were the case, then God would not so honour another preacher who preached another, slightly different doctrine – but in fact He does. Signs and wonders might well follow that preacher’s speaking too. This is mainly why I think it’s funny :). People from the two different camps would even possibly claim that the other’s signs and wonders were ‘counterfeit’ miracles from the enemy. Well, this is complete rubbish. What’s happening is that God cares so much about the people receiving the ministry of the signs and wonders – those being healed, delivered, set free, what-have-you – He cares more about demonstrating His love and His Kingdom than he does about correct theology – and so He heals them. Period.
Jesus told His disciples that they should not hinder another person who was doing signs in His Name – someone who was not ‘part of Jesus’s Group of Disciples’ – because, as He explained, “He who is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:49-50). Romans 12:15 also says that we should “rejoice with those who rejoice” – if the Kingdom is being demonstrated, then rejoice! If the enemy’s kingdom is being decimated by another group of Christians, even if we don’t see eye to eye with them, rejoice! The enemy’s kingdom is being pushed back and the “Kingdom of God [is] forcefully advancing” (Matt 11:12), and “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the evil one” (1 Jn 3:8). So if God is honouring someone else’s works, who are we to argue? It’s the same Jesus healing one group as it is the other, and He’s not partial. So let’s not be Pharisees and spoil the fun for those ministering in signs and wonders, but with whom we do not fully agree. Their doctrine isn’t important to God; and to be honest neither is yours! Instead it’s the willingness to minister God’s Love to the broken that is important.
But what about those whose doctrines are clearly in opposition to our own? How do we relate to them? Well, firstly, we should indeed rejoice with them when the enemy’s kingdom is pushed back. Even if it’s only quietly rejoicing; you don’t have to go throw a party with them! 😉 But still thank God that the Kingdom is advancing and Jesus is being preached.
No, the real sign of someone’s ‘rightness’ with God is that of their fruit. The Fruit of the Spirit. I’ve written on this subject here. And the other sign of how submitted you are to Christ is the way in which you react to others’ successes – as I said, rejoice in God’s Kingdom; if you do that, it is a clear sign that you are putting His Kingdom first (Matt 6:33)
To me, this all shows how tolerant God is of those who really want to worship Him from their hearts; no matter how ‘wrong’ they may seem to other groups, He still blesses them. Why? Because God is Good – all the time. Even to those who are faithless, those who are ‘wrong’…..we are all in a state where Grace needs to improve our thinking and our belief systems. Sure, gifts, signs and wonders are a measure, but the real measure is the fruit. Also many people will usually quote the “Lord, Lord….” passage (Matt 7:21) to try somehow to ‘prove’ that the others are wrong – but this is plain incorrect. Firstly there is no evidence to suggest that ‘their’ group is ‘wrong’ and ‘ours’ is ‘right’. And secondly it’s a non-sequitur: their conclusion does not have a logical link from a preceding axiom or established principle, nor does it follow a logical line of argument. What they are saying is that God will, one day, justify their position by casting out these others into some undefined ‘place of wailing’….but this is plain incorrect. God does not take sides on doctrinal issues. And He actually sees all us different believers as one body; isn’t it about time we put aside our doctrinal differences and did the same? A friend of mine commented on this idea thus: “… I do believe that God is doing [the signs and wonders] to prove that HE is right… And more importantly, to glorify the Son”. Absolutely right.
So, this is why God honours the faith of so many doctrinally different groups – because He’s good (all the time); because He loves them and the people they’re ministering to; and because really God’s not too bothered about doctrine as much as we think He is. As with so many of the Things of God, it’s simple once you see it!