Years ago, and even today in re-runs, The Andy Griffith Show had a quirky deputy named Barney Fife. He was so inept that Sheriff Taylor only allowed him to have one bullet, and it had to be kept in his pocket. From watching the show, I recognized a very important principle; if I only had one bullet, I would be extremely careful where, when, and how I used it. The "Barney Fife Principle" might well be applied to the Christian's life. We are only here for a short time or, as another TV show says, we only have One Life To Live. How does the Lord want us to spend it?
In the past few months, I have been introduced to blogs and Facebook, which have both greatly enhanced my life. Being almost a shut-in due to the second law of thermodynamics (my body is falling apart), I found a ministry in being able to share my thoughts on God's Word with others. I write a daily (Lord willing) blog and I comment on several sites listed under groups on my home page. My goal is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost, and to be an encouragement to my brethren. With the exception of a few folks claiming to be atheists, some who want to impress me, and several whose egos delight in questioning any and all things spiritual, most responses have been very encouraging to me. I have joy because the Lord is using me.
But lately, I have noticed that my focus has been subtly drawn toward addressing doctrinal errors. There seems to be three main classes of writings that get me off focus: those who challenge the authenticity of the Bible, those who misquote the Bible by taking passages out of context, and those who want to apply the Law to the Church. I have become an apologist, a teacher, and mostly irritated. I do not understand why those who don't believe in Christ are so determined to convert us. I don't understand why those who do believe in Christ are so unteachable, or so anxious to strap a yoke of bondage on their brethren. And, I know I am wrong for feeling the way I do. Unlike Jesus Who wept, I want to yell and scream. What a mess I am! My encounters with atheists, false teachers, and legalists have made me forget that I was once just like them and as such, must have irritated believers and distracted them. Lord, forgive me!
Just like the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-11, I have left my first love. In fact, I have almost left love altogether. James describes it as having looked in a mirror (the Word) and then forgetting what kind of person I am. I, of all men, desperately need the filling of the Spirit so that I will show forth His fruit. I need to pray for those who irritate me. I need to love them as Christ loves them. And, I need wisdom to know when, where, and how to use "my bullet." Pray for me.