Things left alone in the water drift downstream, not up — nor do they stay in one place. Drift is similar to what happens when a woodworker cuts from the last piece of wood that had been cut, instead of cutting from the original pattern. Naturally, this causes the dimensions of the pieces to gradually be more and more “off”. It might take some time to notice a difference between the finished pieces and the original. If one that was cut from the last piece and not the pattern was all you’d seen you could assume it was the original, and that the original was actually too small. Without someone proving to you which one was cut to be the pattern, what reference point would you have to know which was real? If the practice continued over time, the pieces would only continue to get larger or broader than they were intended to be (Matthew 7:13).
A parallel to this can be seen in cultural patterns based on what is accepted as being right. They tend to gradually shift, with people effectively gauging what’s alright now from the “last cut”, rather than from the original. Hollywood didn’t go from Mayberry RFD to what’s running now in one season (I prefer to skip their influence altogether). Is this improvement? Some think so, but most just accept it as a “sign of the times”. I submit that it is a symptom of the dangerous “drift” in our culture.
In drift, each change is linked to the last one. Things that are commonly discussed in the news these days did not suddenly jump to the forefront of thought. One change broke the surface and culture processed it, thought about it, fought over it, but finally assented to it — not necessarily standing up to say “this is great, everyone should do it this way…”, but rather “it’s ok” or “‘it’s not that bad, really”. That is drift. It could not have happened all at one time.
Truth is exactly opposite of drift. It began when God spoke it, and is the same now. God is not waiting for the latest trend to tell you what you need to do. Yet many people base their experiences and even their doctrine on what began as drift from the original.
How do you know the difference?
Drift has to be justified, which may sound like this: “Even though some think the Bible teaches that [x, y, z behavior] is wrong, if you take this scripture and pair it with that one, it shows that it really is not that bad.” Truth does not require justification: Thou shalt not = that’s against God’s laws and standards. Standards of conduct, dress, etc. that are relevant for today can be found in scripture, for those who will take them as truth, just as they are. If they are taken to mean what they say and are applied that way, then the fact is: they work that way.
Another drift test is that if a particular belief or practice could easily be made to apply to everyone without something necessary or needful being lost, then it closer to truth. If it’s only accepted in society, but couldn’t be applied to everyone without something being lost, then I submit that it represents drift. One current debate is over gay marriage: if it were made mandatory (the only type marriage allowed – God forbid), there would be no next generation. If on the other hand, monogamous heterosexual marriage were applied to everyone (made the only acceptable standard), then cultures would be able to thrive and continue as they have for thousands of years.
There is a parallel also in the application of God’s word. When the apostles preached and taught and practiced their new faith and people responded, this is the documentation of the original (the Acts of the Apostles). First expressed in Acts 2:38, the doctrine of repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost was the only means of salvation preached in their day. Their doctrine was practiced exclusively by the church for at least 150 years. That’s the point at which “educated men” began to teach that, as the apostles were “uneducated”, they were not the most qualified to teach doctrine, and gradually turned some of the church followers to baptizing in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost rather than the name of Jesus. The concept that the apostles who were directly taught of Jesus were not qualified to teach doctrine could not be further from the truth, but by 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea had institutionalized the drift of the church, and the men who advocated the original were prevented from having a voice in the debate and their works burned.
This was effectively the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church, which many years later had continued to drift to the point of even leaving its own founding principles, so that a Reformation movement was begun by Martin Luther. Though this movement did many things to remove corruption from the organized church, it did not return it to the pre-AD 150 doctrine of the original apostles.
Charles Sheldon’s classic novel, In His Steps, details the choice of a group of people to look at where they had drifted to, and decidedly turn upstream. Their choice to weigh their every action by the teachings of Jesus, and only do what they believed he would have done, took them immediately into the face of those around them: people who, only the day before, they were no different from. Finding one’s way to the original from the drift has the same effect today.
So what do you choose? Would a return to the practice of the apostles’ original plan be going back to the pattern your spiritual experience was meant to be cut from? There are those who believe so, and live that way today. Learn more about what they are living and teaching by clicking the link, or if you’re in the neighborhood, join us at:
Bay Springs, MS
By the grace of God, we’re getting to experience a taste of
Church the way it was meant to be…
and glad to know there’s more where that came from!
Leave a comment and let me know what you’re thinking!