Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Back Again and Still Ranting

So, in five days it will have been a year since I posted anything new. A lot can happen over the course of a year. I will not attempt to outline all the changes that has happened in my life and is happening in my life but I want to share some Scripture that has been shared with me for encouragement.

The first comes from my wife. In an attempt to not only deepen her own faith, but to be the example she wants to be to other women, she has been reading and studying Titus over the last year. There is a lot in that book about how those who are older should be examples to the younger - both men and women. The verse she shared with me was:

Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11 (HCSB)

My sister encouraged me with some verses from Romans, which echo the same thought:
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. Romans 16:17-18 (NASB)

Additionally, I read this verse this morning which includes a similar message:
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 1 Timothy 2:8 (NASB)

There are too many times in the church that we excuse those being divisive, factious (as the NASB says), and who cause dissension. We excuse them because we say "It is just the way they are, it is just their personality." We excuse them because we are too frightened to confront them with what the Bible calls sin. We excuse them because they are people we respect so we say they are just having a bad day. We find all kinds of excuses for them but they are tearing up the church. It is weakening the church's spiritual power and it is causes thousands to leave the church and never come back. After all, why do I need to go to church to watch people fight in a unbiblical manner when I can just watch the world do that.

Instead of causing division and stirring up dissention, those who make up the church MUST give each other grace. We are commanded to give grace and speak grace to all we come across:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB)

This is because the one people who are expected to be gracious and merciful is the body of Christ:
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NASB)

So these verses should spur every believer to two actions. First, we must address the divisive person. No matter how uncomfortable, no matter the consequences, no matter the impact on our relationship, we must address the sin that is impacting the church and work to reconcile that person to God (See Matthew 18).

Second, we must make giving grace to people a priority. The divisions caused in churches today are mostly over superficial issues, like style of music or how people dress, not major issues, like doctrine. Instead of demanding our own way over these nonessential issues, we must learn to give grace to those who need it. Maybe by giving grace we earn the right to invest our lives into others. Maybe by giving grace we can win more people to the Kingdom of God. Maybe by giving grace we learn to be more and more like Jesus every day. We must learn to give grace.

If you are reading this, please post a comment so I know if my ranting is reaching anyone. Also, let me know if there is a topic you want me to revisit or address at some point. It is my intention to post regularly.