Will You Go To Hell With Me?
Time for a mini-series (that always has the potential of growing, I suppose, but it currently seems definite in my mind!).
When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Do you like your church? Do you like the place you gather with others to worship? Do you feel you fit in with everyone (or at least most of them)?
Have you drawn away from other churches or denominations? Have you drawn away from society as a whole?
Peter had a calling to reach out to the Israelites, and Paul to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Peter could be seen eating with non-Jews, because all believers are seen as Israelites. It was only when those who have believed in God their whole lives showed up that he felt a need to draw away from the Gentile believers. Paul called him on that.
Pulling yourself out of society or away from those who “do not believe as you do” is selfish. (The exception would be for a brand new believer who needs to make the move to be able to grow in his/her faith without being pulled back to his/her old habits and sins)
The other way this can be seen is by inviting people to your church.
This is not usually a bad thing. In fact, we are supposed to bring others into fellowship with believers and God.
The bad thing is when a) you have cut yourself/selves off from society completely and/or b) your walk is less than righteous … to be overly polite and politically correct.
a) Look at Westboro Baptist as an example: It is almost exclusively made up of family members. They have essentially been cut off from the world, and they routinely condemn the world as being hated by God (which is arguably true to a point). They have become so focused on what they believe to be true that nothing else is allowed in, and their beliefs cannot be questioned ever. God hates people!
b) We will stick with Westboro Baptist here, too: They lack the one thing God has commanded us to have. That is love. They do way more harm than good. They spread hate and dissension instead of love and peace.
In other words, it is like we are saying to people, instead of “Will you go to church with me?”, “Will you go to Hell with me?”
Living and “worshiping” this way leads more people to Hell than to Christ.
Kind of a downer, eh?
This is not necessarily a rebuke (though it could certainly be seen as an indictment against many churches in the West), but it is a call to examine yourself. What are your motives? What are you doing? How much are you loving on people whom you do not know (that well) or whom you do not like?