I have to admit, I’m still kind of a newbie to the reformed circles. I didn’t discover Reformed Theology until March of 2016 when I had what I like to call a “Damascus Moment”. Calvinism to me was something for smart people to study, and to be reformed, well I just knew that had something to do with Martin Luther and RC Sproul. Suddenly, my life was changed. It was changed by a John Piper sermon on the way to Amarillo Texas, in which God kept impressing the words of Jeremiah 1:5; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”
To me, in that moment, God wasn’t letting me know of the plans He had for me, He was letting me know that he knew all of my mistakes before I ever made them, knew all of the times I would turn my back on Him and He still loved me as his beloved daughter, and he had plans for me regardless of my shortcomings.
My personal journey into faith and theology has gone from one extreme to another. I grew up as a dutiful Southern Baptist, attending church because it was what I was supposed to do, rebelled for a while, became involved in the Word of Faith movement for a bit, returned back to my Baptist faith, discovered reformed theology, and since then I have dedicated my time seeking to understand the context of scripture and who God is. It has been a journey of discovery, a God guided journey of learning that will not cease this side of Heaven.
One thing that has made the journey difficult is that of lack of grace. Stay with me here for a minute; But I think we in reformed circles are stereotyped as bearded, craft brew enjoying, pipe smoking arrogant superiors. As I began to study theology, I joined several Facebook groups, seeking to understand this new realm of understanding, only to find that I was being accosted for asking questions about teachers that I loved dearly, and was almost driven to an over legalistic lifestyle.
Suddenly, some of my mentors were called heretics, and everything I believed was crushed. I was so obsessed about the context of each word of scripture, I was wondering if any of it was meant for me personally? How could I personalize God’s promises? Was I doing it wrong? On the flip side of that, I found myself becoming internally superior to those around me due to my new found reformed knowledge. I found myself criticizing those reading fluff while I was trying to decipher A.W. Pink. Pride was growing; my relationship with God was not. I was becoming discouraged, and I felt alone.
Fellowship in the reformed circles is beautiful. I’m afraid we haven’t been so welcoming though. What can we do, as reformed believers, to help those who may be seeking and may be feeling lost?
We Have To Remember Our Identity is in Christ Not in Our Theology
Reformed Theology is beautiful, and it is something that many of us can relate to. Not everyone is reformed, however, all who trust in God are His children. I can guarantee you that the majority of my friends that aren’t on the social media circuit don’t even know what reformed theology is, and we shouldn’t condemn them for this. It is really easy when someone asks about our faith, to say “Oh I’m reformed”, however, we should remember that we are first and foremost children of God. When we remember our identity is in Him not in Calvinism, or Arminianism, or anything else, then we are able to give grace to others and to remain humble in our own actions.
Calvinism and Reformed Theology is New to many Believers
Many of us who are new to the theology circuits are eager to learn, but we are just coming out of the stages of satisfaction of getting our theology from Christian living books and feel good podcasts. We have a lot of questions as to why things might not be what they thought they were. Do we have to treat people like snowflakes? No. However to one just learning about TULIP limited atonement, for example, is a completely cruel and unfair.
We Do Have An Obligation to The Truth
While giving grace is an absolute must, to speak in love and truth is something that we have a responsibility to as well. Coffee cup verses without context can be misleading, and with misconception comes surface theology and a misconception of who God is. God is holy, righteous, and just, and we have an obligation to remember that and to help others understand that, under grace. If someone gifts you a coffee cup with the verse Jeremiah 29:11 on it, don’t chunk it at their head and scream CONTEXT! (We’ve all wanted to do that) Instead, use it as an opportunity to educate.
We are all God’s children on a journey. Not on of a journey of rules and legalism, but on a journey of discovery. We are discovering who God is through theology and through His word. We are on this journey together, and as we trek through these valleys and these mountains together let’s remember Whose we are and the grace He has given us all. Let’s seek to disciple in love and continue on together as Children of God.