Doctrine is like a fire. Those who broadcast their message of doctrine, an inner life of holiness, are like the smoke rising from a fire. The smoke is easy to see, its effect is felt from afar, and it chokes those who are nearest and chases the rest away. There are also those who promote their doctrine of justice, marches and protests, getting the word out and getting the people together, to change the world. They are like a fire’s sparks. They burn hot, carrying their incendiary message in the hopes of starting more fires. People around a fire avoid the sparks just as much as the smoke. Yet there is another kind of Christian. This person is not billowing out a message of holiness to anyone who happens to hear nor is this person popping off a spark to singe and sting others into justice. This person is gentle and kind; faithful in love, peace, and goodness; practicing self-control and being both joyful and loving. This sort of doctrine does not boast like the other two. It would be seen in small acts of kindness to friends or strangers; it would be heard in compliments and encouraging words. These people are the burning logs of the fire…this warmth is what draws others…it is what captures the eye…people linger around this part of the fire.
Do you uphold doctrinal beliefs of this Yearly Meeting and support its ministries?
Life of doctrine…in an age of noise
There is so much noise in our world today: consumerism; politics; sports; violence; and everything else. The example above says that people are preaching and protesting their beliefs—I see it on the news, on Facebook, and even on the streets. But words without Life are dead; actions without Life are dead. And Life will have both action and words as it shares the Fruits of the Spirit with others.
Paul addresses Timothy about the two ways in the fourth chapter. The general idea is that Christians will be tempted by evil spirits and human misunderstandings to live and think in an ungodly way. The other choice we have is to remain centered in the faith, the life and truths, of being in a relationship with Christ.
The hard part is that it is difficult to see which way is God’s way many times. It is a subtle choice. It isn’t a glaring choice between holy and evil…but of finding the way that seems right and pursuing it. And along the way we search for the Holy Spirit’s confirmation or redirection. We aren’t blind and in the dark. We have the witness of the Holy Spirit speaking to us individually, as a church, and through the Scriptures.