The party spirit has been keeping all of Christendom separated since Jesus
left our needy planet 2000 years ago.
How do we resist this party spirit from taking over our hearts and ruling our
How do we do the will of God and preach His message of salvation and experience the blessings of God on
our work, and still, at the same time, stay focused on the basics of doing Christ's work, not ours?
How do we keep
ourselves from starting another party spirit type of movement. Movements noted by the banner they wave and the people they
attract to that banner.
I have wrestled with this issue for the last few years. From the inception of our ministry
of Livin Lattes, we were determined to stay out of a certain "bucket" of Christianity.
We desired to be as close to a center
point of the Gospel according to Jesus. I felt led of the Spirit to gather people. And in this calling I could not just say
whatever came to my mind about my view of this or that without careful consideration. I have and continue to learn the art
of being more careful how I say things. We desired to show no preference to any denomination or named group of believers.
We struggled in this way of independence because churches and their leaders were poking around and asking me questions trying
to figure out where I stood on the issues they cared about.
I resisted writing a doctrinal statement on our cafe website
just so I could avoid being placed in a doctrinal bucket.
Churches interested in helping us do the work of
gathering God's people desired to know our doctrinal statement. These biblicist churches holding to a high view of scripture
to maintain sound doctrine, which view I also share, wanted to know what the new guy on the block is all about. There is a
natural suspicion by most pastors, especially about guys like me who don't have a clear affiliation. Nonetheless we desired
not to exclude any who were interested in gathering people around the Lord's Word, we wanted to and continue to desire to
see the people of God come together -- we believe this to be the Lord's heart as well!
So again, I ask you, how
do we resist the party spirit?
Jesus commands us to test prophets and apostles, He commends the church in Ephesus for doing
just that and basically kicking them out if they were found to be fakes. Rev. 2:1-8 So we must draw lines in the sand, but
For most of us it's just safer to stay in our party, within the doctrinal confines of our group, safe in
As a father of eight wonderful kids, I observe this spirit working in our children all the time to create
division and chaos in our home. Our children are so often testing my wife and I to pick their side verses their brother or
sister's side on just about any issue. They are very passionate about our loyalty to their cause.
whom would love my constant support and allegiance to their cause. Rather then their brother's or sister's cause. In most
of these squabbles, I would have to put the truth aside to be loyal to them. This action hinders their growth in grace and
so it does for each one of us if we never get past our party spirit!
We can witness from the smallest issues to the really big ones, the party spirit has been
used by the god of this age to keep the body of Christ separated.
To come out of the party spirit and to walk
in the way of Our Father and to move the unity of the Holy Spirit, will require, at the very first, a clear recognition of
our susceptibility to fall under the powerful influence of the party spirit. It takes work to stay clear of this sinful behavior.
In other words, we need to inculcate a healthy self mistrust!
Since days of Adam and Eve and eventual horror of
Cain killing his brother Abel, we have had to deal with terror of nagging long-term sibling rivalries that keep nations, tribes,
and families separated.
If we could solve this problem, firstly in the church, we must realize the beginnings of
true peace in our world, churches, neighborhoods, and homes.
is the author of a beautiful diversity that was to be His People and in Christ to become His beautiful Bride.
therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness
and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to
keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called
in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Eph 4:1-6
He loves the distinctiveness of each one of His creatures, we all form a purpose in His designs, even the evil we see,
all is for the good of man.
When the Lord shows me my party spirit, I begin to feel His pain and frustration with us
-- His kids.
I know and observe this silly behavior playing out in our home everyday. In a very small way,
like our Lord, I sense His frustration with my family as I watch my kids fight for their rights without any effort to see
the other person's perspective. Recently, I had my kids just sit and look at each other and speak over them destiny and blessing,
with the knowledge God has something special for each and everyone of them.
But still, with all my entreaties
for peace, so many times I just have to throw up my hands in frustration, muttering to myself and sometimes quite vocally, “why can't we all just get along?”
To balance what I am conveying
today I have to add this injunction.
We have to rightly divide the Word of God, and that, many deceivers will continually present
to us lying heresies and damnable doctrines of demons, and we can't play ball with this activity.
we could just see from God's perspective what is really keeping the true sheep of God so divided, we would be so sad.
It makes me sad to see my kids fight. It breaks my heart that they don't see the positive qualities of their brothers
and sisters. They don't take the long view on what God is doing in their lives, they only see things from their perspective.
How will this decision effect me and my church or party?
What is the risk assessment going forward?
How many people will walk out of my church if this potentially controversial person is given a platform to share what
the Lord has revealed to them about our church or our denomination or our lack of doing the will of the Lord?
I have succumbed to the party spirit; I believe that my oft entanglements qualify me to write on this topic.
all too intimately the attitude of following the party line instead of putting the truth and a diligent search toward determining
God's assessment of a person or group. In other words we need a healthy discernment at all times.
I would rather, many times, when I hear a negative report about a person or group
is to believe the report. It's so much easier to simply spout or regurgitate what I have just heard, and in turn fallen prey
to the party spirit. Younger believers do need to listen to the more mature believers so as to avoid vain babbling and heresies,
but the same Holy Spirit that drew them with cords of love to the cross of Jesus is also the same Holy Spirit that will preserve
them in the way of faith.
When we indulge the party spirit we actually commit
the act of murder by destroying their character by passing on information that might not be true about a person or group of
believers. We know this is wrong, but hidden away in the secret places of our heart we hope the bad things that may be happening
to a competing ministry or one we don't agree with is true so as to bring them down a notch or two. We have just allowed another
episode in the saga of Satan being able to sow discord among the brethren and bring reproach on the Body of Christ!
May God have mercy on us in the day when He will bring these idle words into judgment before His Holy Throne.
we allow ourselves to get trapped in a party spirit?
Mainly, we like the party spirit, its easy to follow. Following
it doesn't require a lot of homework or research. It really doesn't require serious and prayerful effort to find out God's
view of this person or group we are speaking about without all the facts. Ted Haggard is a clear example of this kind of behavior.
None of us really know what God is going to do with Ted, it would be good for him and for all of us if he would be truly changed
at the heart level and then speak the Truth of God's love from the vantage point of his brokenness. It's not ideal to fall
into sin just to be used of God, but when it happens it is the Lord's intent to restore... always!
party spirit requires little observation and examination of an issue. Parroting the party line keeps us in good graces with
the top brass of our group.
There is absolutely no risk in following the company or party line.
Our simple requirement
is to ask what we are to think and say about a given person or group and then just repeat it.
a biblical perspective to this line of thought I will quote to you the words of the apostle Paul who had these words of counsel
for a very diverse and Spirit-filled group of people in the city of Corinth,
you are still fleshy. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshy, and are you not walking like mere
men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?”
I Cor. 3:3-4
We know Corinth had a party spirit, it's source, according to the apostle Paul was “jealousy
and strife”. They were simply walking in the ways of men. The men of Greece, Rome, Jerusalem, and of their home town,
Paul continues this line of instruction with these words,
then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord have opportunity to each one”.
I Cor. 3:5
We see clearly from the text that Paul's intention was not to start a “Paul”
movement or even to sponsor an “Apollos” ministry.
Rather, Paul labored to know nothing but Jesus
Christ and Him crucified as stated in the previous chapter.
Paul makes it clear that he was just a servant of
Christ and that Christ gave him his ministry and those who would believe when he proclaimed the gospel of His Messiah.
If our ministry comes from the throne of Christ, then they must go back to the throne of Christ.
is the source of everything then all things must go back to Him.
Rom. 11:36, “For
from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen”
and Amen to this glorious declaration!
A couple years ago, after my wife and I lost our
public ministry site in Pilot Mountain, at a time when we were at our lowest, I decided to go away for a couple of days to
fast and pray.
I ended up driving to the mountains. I also ended up wandering around the top of the Blue Ridge mountains
without a compass or any idea where I was.
All I wanted to do was hear God, I had prayed and prayed for several years
for a plan and a direction to please Him. To serve Him in the way of His choosing and NOW it appeared to be gone.
2 days of wandering around among the trees, pasture lands, wild ponies, and large rock formations covering the breath-taking
vistas of the Blue Ridge, I heard off in the distance the sound a waterfall. I was so thirsty from all the walking so I stepped
up my gait to refresh myselt with the sight and taste of mountain water springs.
The closer I came to the
waterfall I found that the stream came from spot at the top of the mountain, I decided to follow it upward to see if I could
find “the source” of this very refreshing stream.
In order to find out where it came from I decided
to hike to the top of the mountain to find out if I could see for myself the "source" of this stream. So I climbed
up and over many rocks and bent down and around many bushes and trees to keep close to the stream and to find its source.
After what seemed to be a few hours, I came to the top of the mountain, but I never actually saw the "source”
where the water actually was gushing out. I did see the general place where the stream went into the mountain, but I decided
that I was close enough and it was then that I just said, "Lord, why am I here?"
But it was here, at the place of exhaustion, hunger, and weariness that I cried out to the Lord again and said, “what is it's source, where does this water come from?”
As the expression of
my frustration rolled slowly over my tongue, I immediately heard words inside my head which were as clear words had been since
I began my journey, the words, “I AM the Source of this stream” and as
I let those word linger in my mind, I then heard these words, “I AM the source of your troubles”
Wow, that was hard to hear, but it was the truth. It helped make sense out of my circumstances. The truth hurts, but
when you really receive the truth, it will eventually bring forth the effect of turning our perspective inside out and will,
guaranteed, produce fruit in your life.
I hope what I am struggling to say today will bear out in the life of the Body
of Christ, and, as we look forward to the days that lie ahead for us we might see in the rising generation a real effort to
turn away from party politics. My suspicion is that difficult days will produce better connections within Christ's body.
Our God has designed us to walk with Him in the truth...together.
Like a master surgeon, the God of the Universe cuts
us to heal us.
we allow the truth to cut us precisely where we need it. These cuts will provide the most
effectualhealing and right understanding of His ways.
In the context of the Corinthians, Paul is saying to these carnal Corinthian believers,
plain and simple, they have gotten way off track, they are in the wrong camp altogether if they have chosen him or Apollos.
If they are in his camp they are not in God's camp... now that is a real problem!
Paul is saying, quite emphatically, that walk of faith in Christ isn't about
me or Apollos, it's about Christ, our Suffering Savior and soon coming King. Divisions and schisms revealed their
immaturity, Paul had to reprove them, it was His Lord's desire to repair the people that bore His name in the city of Corinth.
In modern expression, Paul is saying to all of us, “guys, you have really lost
your way!” You haven't just slightly missed the truth, “you have
wandered into the wrong universe.”
He says in verse 6 & 7,
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” So then, neither the one who plants
nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.”
Are we not carnal today in
the America church?
Are we not lost in a party spirit?
Let's be honest.
Are we not lost in
the foolishness of our perceived sense of who is right and who is wrong based on our definition of right and wrong?
Does anyone of us really know exactly where to draw the fine line of truth and error?
This I know, the Holy
Spirit knows, by the Sovereign guidance of the Lord's Spirit we will find the way for us, in this time, and for our culture.
Jesus promised us that His Spirit would guide us into all truth. His words are still binding on all of us today, aren't
Jn. 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide
you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose
to you what is to come.”
You see how far we have fallen from this directive?
Paul knew that
His ministry was under Christ's control, the Lord could do with Him and His work as He pleased. Many times Paul was unsure
of where or how this truth would play out for him.
Is Paul's mindset -- ours?
The tendency for all
of us is to rely on past demonstrations of God's power within a given group of named believers, but God's spirit is constantly
turning over the soil of this world to gather in His harvest. He does this work by raising up new people to carry His message
forward. If you don't believe me just study the history of the church over the 2000 years.
This is not to say that God doesn't bless a group of believers
bound with a confession with a period of sustained influence. But the movements that bear the name of an anointed work of
the Holy Spirit in the life of a saint of God are usually much more carnal then the original work wrought in the person the
movement was named after.
I am also NOT saying
that within existing groups of believers and denominational structures there aren't those who, under influence of His grace,
will move in Christ's power for a period of time.
But if we are honest with ourselves, God is bigger then any
He has to be... He is God!
Many a pastor will tell you this, but they and we have a
innate desire to pitch the vision as we understand it to be. For great leaders, their job is to see that vision forward
as it relates to the building up of their particular cause or work.
But in the end we all are servants of Christ.
Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples after they were endowed with His Power to cast out demons and heal the
sick and preach the kingdom of God?
They were amazed at the power of their words as they did things they had never
done before, but Jesus warned them by saying to them,
not at this, but that your names are written in heaven”
Marvel not my dear friends at how big a man
of God is or his movement, Or how many churches carry their banner, marvel that you have been chosen to carry His name.
We have the distinct privilege to bear His Name and carry His banner.
I find this topic so hard to finish
but I feel I must continue.
Our family has a deep love for the Lord, but since we have been wandering in the wilderness
of His training we find it hard for typical church leaders to understand why we have been on this “kind” of wilderness
We know our calling has been orchestrated by the Lord's hand, but many see it as not figuring out where
we fit, that may be true, but the Lord is magnified in our life of struggle, seeking to please the Lord and carry out the
work He showed us to do.
In conclusion, when we imbibe the party spirit, we mirror the world of politics,
we look and sound like we are rooting for our favorite NFL team, in the words of Paul when we fall prey to this spirit we
are act like “mere” men.
I don't like being referred to as a “mere” man, it sounds so weak
and empty, doesn't it?
All of us need a healthy dose of the reality that we are part of something so big that none
of us could possibly wrap our minds around it.
We need to believe that in the end, right before the Lord's
return, His people will be gathering to prepare to meet the Bridegroom. We will be the virgins who have taken our extra vile
of oil just in case Our Bridegroom tarries.
We all need His touch and blessing to be what He wants us to be. We achieve
nothing without His grace.
In the end, our work will be found either in Him or it will be found in us.