Friday, July 16, 2010

So Let's Stop Condemning Each Other

Rom. 14:1-13 (NLT excerpted)  
  1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. . . . 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. 
. . .  7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.
   10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,
     “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD,
     ‘every knee will bend to me,
         and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’” 
  12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

With so many denominations, and more independent churches evolving into denomination-like associations every year, it seems that we who are supposed to be unified with Christ and through Him with each other grow increasingly fractured. In the barbershop, today, two of my barber friends, both whom are wonderful believers-- one a Catholic and the other an Orthodox Christian, were vociferously arguing about the communion sacrament. Each was accusing the other of infidelity for not doing it the way His priest lead it. Both quoted scripture. soon they dragged me into the conversation, knowing that I was both a pastor and a College professor. Mostly I was sad that such petty things can separate us. The style of our buildings, the style of our music, whether we dress in suits or shorts, tattoos, shoes, diets, all seem to further exacerbate our unity in Christ. Most of what we do is by tradition, rather than scripture anyway.

There is just one issue-- Jesus Christ is God, Savior, and Lord over all. When we accept that one issue, and all the understanding of our need and blessing that accompanies this truth, we can just not get too excited about whether we eat meat or only veggies. We can not grow bothered that when one brother takes Communion he has been taught to think of it as a transformed body and blood of Christ for him to consume while another has been taught to see it as The Lord's Supper-- a sacrament of remembering the great and terrible sacrifice God in Christ has done for us.  Both honor God and put their faith in Christ. Why fracture the Body of Christ over such things?

I remember once, decades ago, to prominent Holiness denominations were exploring a merger. Doctrine was no problem, worship style was no problem. Everything was aligned perfectly. And when it came down to the final decision. they decided to stay apart. Why. They couldn't decide which of the separate general superintendents and bishops would remain as the ones in charge over the new merged church. Also at issue where which of the several church sponsored Colleges would remain in existence. That was 20 years ago and they still are apart when they could be ONE.  Jesus might have been sad that day.

The bottom line, I think, for us who Love God in Christ and are 'called according to His purposes' is that we resist anything that would separate us, and destroy our unity with other believers. By avoiding condemning and judging (just Like Jesus commanded) then we just might succeed, through the Power of the Holy Spirit within us all.
Your servant in Christ's Love
Dan Elliott

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to let us know how these thoughts have inspired, blessed, or challenged you. If you wish to engage, please post your question.

DreamHost reviews