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Dim Vision, The Why of Division within the Church

Last week it snowed and blanketed the area in white. The road crews were able to clear the main roads, but it kept snowing and was very cold so most of the area kept building up a deepening layer of snow.

Then it rained and got warmer for a couple days. Most of the roads cleared but a lot of the snow remained. The snow, however, was no longer white; it was gray, almost the color of the road. There were mounds of this gray frozen slush all over the place. On the edge of the roads frequently these mounds of gray slush camouflaged the curbs. One dangerous place in particular was where gray snow covered the highway median so you didn’t know exactly where the median and curb were. That scenario happened to me.

The other night I was coming home after dark. It was cloudy and the lighting was bad. I came to an intersection where I had to turn left around a median. I had been there countless times before. I pulled up to the light, started my turn, and looked through the windshield. Lo and behold, I just couldn’t see clearly for a minute. There was a harsh glare on the pavement from the melted snow. The median was totally hidden in the gray frozen slush. For just a moment I lost my bearings. I couldn’t tell where the median was! Well, I was going slowly, there was only a single car behind me and none in the opposite lane of the road I was turning off of, so I carefully turned back onto the road that I had turned off of. I went up the road and negotiated the turn at another access point. I was able to finish my drive home without incident.

What stood out in my mind about all this was the phrase the Apostle Paul used “seeing through a glass dimly.”(1 Corinthians 13:12) In my scenario it was dark, I was looking through a glass, and I just couldn’t see clearly. I was looking “through a glass dimly”! While the analogy describes physical vision, Paul used the term to describe our spiritual vision. Paul, in his letters teaches us that we have a holy spirit that guides us, and to follow that spirit, but he also teaches us that we can’t see clearly, i.e., we see through a glass dimly.

That makes me think of all the various churches and denominations and how so many of them teach and are committed to the leading of the spirit. But they all see through a glass dimly. So one, committed to following the leading of the spirit, says we can baptize infants by sprinkling them. Another splits away from that church, saying the spirit is leading them that adult believers only are baptized, being immersed in water. Another says that the baptism of the spirit is the only baptism we need while others say that spirit baptism is a second baptism. Another says that speaking in tongues and other manifestations are the proof of receiving the spirit. And another, also filled with zeal and committed to following the spirit, says that anyone who speaks in tongues is a devil because tongues has ceased.

I have personally gone to churches and fellowshipped with believers who believe all these things. In every case, there is sincerity. More than that, in every case, there is believing and faith. God answers prayers in all these places.

We all see through a glass darkly. The churches above see the spirit, but they obviously can’t always make out all the details because the spirit is not saying one thing to one and an opposing thing to another. Yet God is working with all of us to the degree that we believe him for results.

When we can’t see clearly, the mistake is to plunge blindly ahead. The smart thing is to back out of the situation and come back to when we can see more clearly.

© copyright 2007 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.

February 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Division Intro | no comments

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