Us vs. Them: the Gospel Dilemma

I am on a social media break, however I do love to write. With that in mind I think I will continue to post here from time to time. Also, this will be a very long post. Sorry in advance haha.

Today I have had a lot on my mind. I've been contemplating what "taking the Gospel" to the world looks like in this present time. Depending on your background with the Bible or Christianity, the answer to that question might look different for each of us. For some of us, "taking the Gospel" to people simply means treating people with kindness as Christ did. For others it is a bit more involved and incorporates giving people Bible studies or inviting them to an evangelistic series. For still others, it means bringing someone into a structured organized religion or baptizing them into a church denomination.

We could discuss what our perceptions of carrying the gospel looks like, all day and night... but perhaps a more worthwhile question is, "What does God want it to look like?"

We can trace the progress of the Gospel from the days of Paul up until today. We can see how the Christian church was born, how it morphed into pagan-influenced Catholicism, and how it broke away during the Reformation. Through the duration of it all we repeatedly see an "Us vs. Them" mindset. In the days of Paul it was the Jews vs. the Gentiles. In the 1600s it was Catholics vs. Protestants. Today it is often Denomination vs. Denomination.

I can't help but wonder if God has been trying to teach us something for all these years (of course he has!). We are busy creating human vs. human scenarios, but according to scripture the battle has always been and will continue to be God vs. Satan. It is time to recognize that there are God's people in every "side" we can come up with. Some of God's people identified as Jew, some Gentile. Some of God's people identified as Catholic, some Protestant. Some of God's people identify as one denomination, and others another.

What does this mean for sharing the gospel? It means we cannot merely present "sides" in human terms. We cannot say "You must become Jew or Gentile" because that misses the point. If we want to make the whole thing a matter of sides we must present God's side vs. Satan's side. How can we do this? Through scripture alone.

And I don't mean scripture twisted to our own agenda. If I must take scripture out of it's intended context, if I must ignore it's historical implications, if I must "proof text" everyone I speak with- I have a problem. The reality is, it is impossible for sinful, selfish man to appropriately present the Gospel in terms of God vs. Satan unless we are fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Without the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we will default to using the Gospel to lead people to our preferred church or way of living. Yet the goal of the Gospel has never been to lead people to this or that manmade group. The goal has always been to lead people to Jesus- with no strings attached.

Now with that in mind, let's take it a step further. It sounds really nice to say "Let's lead everyone to Jesus" and then wrap the post up and call it a day. But people are not so simple. People are actually quite complex and they have mental and physical needs we cannot ignore or avoid. People need community. It is an innate desire within all of us to not just find Jesus, but also find others who have found him. When Jesus came to earth he was not a solo act. He did not travel alone, preach alone, or always pray alone. He took people with him. So this creates a new layer to leading people to Jesus. How do we lead people to Jesus AND connect them with a community of likeminded believers.

It feels as if we are about to talk ourselves in circles. We want to lead people to Jesus and not manmade groups, but we also know that people need some sort of group to be a part of! This is what I believe is our current dilemma. We have a lot of people who want to find God and know God but they are distracted or put off by all the "group" options. They don't know where to begin when it comes to finding a church family. They are exhausted by the Us vs. Them mentality. This is especially true of young people.

We are living in a time where someone, and really multiple someones, must step up and start openly discussing the different discrepancies between churches and religions. If we are able to lay everything out on the table, perhaps we can better recognize what is Biblical and what is not. It is not a comfortable thing to do- especially in the current societal climate. Everyone is on edge. Everyone wants to have their own "personal" truth. However, let me remind you again that our mindset here should always be God vs. Satan not Us vs. Them.

When we take the time to look at the Bible with its historical and contextual components, we can eliminate religions and churches that promote unbiblical teaching. I have taken the time to narrow down the major issues and here they are: The teaching of hell as eternal torment, the teaching that death is life in another state of being, and the teaching that God's law is nullified. Whatever the "true" church or religion of the one true God is, it must set straight all three of these components. These three components ultimately reveal what we believe about God's character. Belief in a false character of God... is honestly just belief in a false God.

This leads us to the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church. When it comes to doctrine, this is the only one that matches the Bible in these vital areas.

Yes, I know. Someone is rolling their eyes and muttering "hypocrite". Of course Melissa would suggest such a notion since she was raise in that church! If you are looking for an easy way to disqualify me... I guess that is the route you must go. But my story isn't so black and white. I do not make such a statement merely because of how I was raised. I make such a statement after evaluating many churches and religions using the Bible and prayer.

How long will we tip-toe around the truth of the matter? The gospel points us to Jesus, and human nature reveals to us that we need community. When we accept Jesus we receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit makes us recognize what is Bible truth and what is not. When we use that truth to evaluate organizations, they all fall apart except one. If we do not think so, we either haven't studied this issue enough or we are lying to ourselves.

This makes us uncomfortable, but why? Perhaps it is because for so long we have seen the world in this Us vs. Them mindset. So, if I suggest that the SDA church is the most Biblical, we immediately take up a posture of SDA vs. Everyone else. We assume that must be what I mean. I MUST be saying that you HAVE to be an SDA or you are not a true believer.

BUT... that is not what I am saying.

I am saying that when you go through the process of seeking truth in the Bible and finding it, you will also in that process discover the SDA church. Not because I want you to find it, but because that is just part of the natural progression. The SDA church is not your final destination- as in becoming SDA isn't the point of your walk with Jesus. Instead the SDA church is a way to fulfill your requirement for community.

The founders of the SDA church got their start as Bible lovers. They gathered in small groups to study the Bible, so God blessed their efforts and allowed them to create a Bible-centered denomination. To be frank, God could have done the same for the Catholics, the Baptists, or the Pentecostals if their leaders and members had also devoted as much prayer and time to knowing the Word of God as the Adventists did. But, for whatever reason...they did not. So God didn't work with them. It really is that simple.

Some of you may read this and say, "Well I have Bible truth and I think the SDA church is cult."

Friend, it isn't possible. Take it from some one who ran from the SDA church. Take it from someone who wanted the SDA church to be false. Take it for someone who tried her hardest to disprove SDA fundamentals with the Bible. I had my own issues with people who identified as SDA, and so I wanted to discredit the entire group... but I could not do so in good faith.

In order to deny the value of the SDA organization you must either A) reject the realities about the truths of the Bible or B) use some side issue to build your case for a lack of value (ie. an SDA person hurt me so they must all be bad).

So, let's collect all my ramblings here and summarize them. My point is our current posture should not be Us vs. Them, it should be God vs. Satan. We want to be securely on God's side not Satan's. We become secure through studying God's word. Once we have that security we must admit that we need friends who also have that security. We can find these friends most easily in the SDA church. Does this mean that the SDA church as an organization is automatically always on God's side? It is hard to say. However it is apparent to me that I will find the largest collection of God-sided people in the SDA church. Are there outliers in other churches and even other religions? Yes. But the chances of me going into a Buddhist gathering and finding a genuine person of God are much slimmer than going into an SDA gathering and finding one.

This is not permission for SDA readers to puff up with pride. In fact there would not be such a negative stigma about the SDA church is it's very own members hadn't created one. So, do not take what I am saying out context. Just because the SDA group is a good bunch of people, doesn't mean we can become arrogant and haughty about it. Nor should we try to "make people SDA's" by giving our long monologues about being "the remnant".

So what can we do with all of this information? First, we can recognize that Jesus must be our focus. I cannot take a posture of me vs. someone else or something else. I must recognize that there is spiritual warfare taking place in the world and I want to be on God's side not Satan's side. I also want to help my neighbor recognize what is going on. I want to help my neighbor know Jesus and join God's side. I want my neighbor to see the value in reading the Bible. Jesus and personal Bible study comes first. In other words, I am not bringing people to the SDA church, I'm bringing people to Jesus. THEN, I am saying, "Hey great news! Here is a church that has lots of people who love Jesus and know what the Bible says too!"

Ideally, the whole world will make a choice to be on God's side or Satan's side. Actually- that is prophecy. The SDA church is in the mix of that, but it is a bigger issue than just being SDA or not.

Until we learn this lesson- until we can properly embrace and internalize the God. vs. Satan mentality and let go of the Us vs. Them mentality, we cannot move forward. We will sit, and sleep, and lose our own salvation due to our negligence and laziness. We will fool ourselves with excuses so we can feel that we are "good" and others are "bad".

Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “’Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.

Rev. 18:4

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