One Kingdom Reason
We love “why I…” lists. Hardly a week goes by I don’t see a post on social media with five, ten or fifteen reasons why the views expressed are as good as gospel. There is something about a list that empowers us, as if having more than one reason for our opinions makes us right. And if we can link a scripture to our opinions, regardless of whether or not we have honored their original intent, then we assume God must agree with us.
Recently, I have become troubled by our obsession with lists because they are often used to bully others or destroy their work for the Lord. They are laced with jealousy, petty legalism and selfish ambition. I have never read a man-made opinion list that didn’t appear to be written to hurt another person or build up the author’s ego.
This doesn’t’ mean everything in a “why I…” list is wrong. I merely find it interesting that we like to pass along human lists and forget the divine ones. For example, there is the list of the seven things God hates in Proverbs 6:16-19. The last item on the list is those who “stir up dissension among brothers.” Did I say this is a list of the things God hates? Of course, there are the Ten Commandments. They include the warming against misusing the name of the Lord. When I was a kid I was taught this meant we shouldn’t use God as a cuss word. I think this rule still applies, but now I know God doesn’t want us to use his name to manipulate our environment. He doesn’t want to be attached to our opinions to make them sound right. He wants us to do what is right so His name will be honored.
There is Paul’s list of the things that remain: faith, hope and love, the greatest of which is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Add to this the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and the list of evil practices found in the same passage (sexual immorality, jealousy, dissention, fits of rage, selfish ambition, etc.).
One of the shortest and perhaps most important lists in the Bible is known as the “two greatest commandments”: to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). But there is yet a shorter one: a “one kingdom reason” if you will. Jesus said there is one way others will know we are His disciples. They will see our love for one another (John 13:34).
Most of the lists I read that seem to be important to people today are not matters of salvation, but rather those of opinion. If I read the Bible correctly, matters of opinion won’t keep anyone out of heaven, but things such as slander (Colossians 3:8) and a spirit of dissention (Romans 13:13) might. If nothing else, God’s lists warn us against things that keep us from worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. Jesus once said if we bring an offering to the altar and remember a disagreement with a brother, we should leave the offering, go make things right, then return (Matthew 5:23). This is the same place where Jesus said our souls are in danger if we try to diminish the worth of a brother.
The lists we create can nurture self-righteousness if we aren’t careful, but God’s lists convict and transform. I don’t pay much attention to man-made opinion lists anymore. Anyway, I don’t suspect I am going to be held accountable for them when I get to heaven. But I will be responsible for my obedience to God, and if I get the things He has said mixed up with the things others say, there isn’t a list in the world I will be able to use to justify my actions.