Studying Yourself Stupid

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “he missed the forest because of the trees”. This means that a person missed the “big picture” of the forest because he was staring at the detail of a trees. This type of myopia is also prevalent in Christian thought.

Take a look at the Christian churches in the phone book to see all the names. How many of them are named after specific doctrines? The Baptists are named after immersion since sprinkling does not count for baptism. Presbyterians are named after a type of governance. Some groups even have two or three adjectives in their names. Lutherans are actually named after a man (God forbid, Paul specifically writes against this at 1Cor 1:12-14.)

Most of these churches were started because someone started focusing too much on one specific doctrine. It’s understandable since oftentimes the doctrine in question was overlooked for a very long time. Unless, of course, if the denomination focuses on bad doctrines or even following men instead of Yahweh, then it is very bad. Generally speaking, though, an entire denomination focusing on one or two doctrines is counterproductive to learning the depth and breadth of the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every  form of evil. 1 Thess 5:21-22 (NASB)

See? The goal is to examine everything carefully, not just to focus on a doctrine or two. Look further at what Paul says to Timothy:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17 (NASB)

We’re supposed to study all the scripture and test all the doctrines, not just one or two. The Church of God is a package deal. This is how Yahweh looks at us, as a balanced package. Yeshua told us that the commandments were summed up into two, to love God with all our hearts and souls and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is a big picture approach. His earthly ministry surely was a big picture ministry showing us compassion, patience, and love.

This is certainly not meant to belittle or discount studying the details of the WORD. That is part of the “everything”! But the Church of God and the Messianic congregations tend to study ourselves stupid at times. Our groups have discovered a very linear path and returned to much lost truth, but we have also have a tendency to start throwing doctrinal stakes into the ground that create divisions where none exist. Or worse, we get onto tangents that become the nexus of our faith and detract from focusing of the grace and love of Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross (or torture stake, see what I mean?).

Brothers and sisters, doctrine is really important. Studying is really important. But when it becomes an avenue to divide those of us who do share so much in common, please have patience with each other. The denominations listed above provide enough division between us and mainstream Christianity to last a lifetime! If the doctrine one is so strident about is true, and independent study showed it to one person, won’t that same study show it to all? If Messiah has shown us such grace and patience, shouldn’t we afford each other the same?

“A  new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NASB)

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