Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Convictions are great.
They guide your life and help you make right choices in hard circumstances.
The problems with convictions in the church - we impose our own convictions on those around us, and measure everything they do or say by our yardstick!

Listen to Paul writing to the Roman believers...

Romans 14
1 "Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do.
And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department.
Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently."

Are there ever differences of opinion within the church?
Some of the ones I have come up against in my short life:
Is it acceptable to clap in church?
How can you play rock and roll in the church. It is the devil's music.
Should women be able to wear pants?
Can you drink any alcohol at all, or is it completely and totally forbidden?
How can you work on Sunday and call yourself a Christian?
Is Jesus coming back BEFORE the tribulation, in the middle, or at the end?
Can you talk and visit in church or should you be quiet?

The list goes on and on...
The result of all of this is discouragement with each other, division and hurt. Here is Paul's direction on that:

10 -12 "So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother?
And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister?
I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse.
Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God.
Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit.
Read it for yourself in Scripture:
"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting.
You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.
13 -14Forget about deciding what's right for each other.
Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is.
I'm convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it."

Why can't we all just get along?
19 -21 "So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God's work among you, are you? I said it before and I'll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don't eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.
22 -23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong."

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