Summary: Are Christians tolerant enough; are we majoring in the minors?
“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
It may come as some surprise to us that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, never preached a sermon on the Virgin Birth or the Second Coming.
Furthermore, Wesley always refused to write up a Creed containing a definite number of fundamental doctrines that a Methodist must believe.
There was no official confession of faith that folks had to recite in order to become members of the early Methodist societies.
The sole condition for membership was a person’s desire “to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins.”
About his approach Wesley commented, “The Methodists alone do not insist on your holding this or that opinion; but they think and let think….Now I do not know any religious society, either ancient or modern, wherein such liberty of conscience is now allowed, or has been allowed, since the age of the Apostles. Here is our glorying; and a glorying peculiar to us.”
And Wesley lived by these principles.
He allowed people to have a great freedom of belief, and wanted to avoid any controversy over minor points that might get in the way of the cause of Christ.
For example, George Whitefield was one of the greatest Methodist evangelists during Wesley’s time, but Wesley and Whitefield disagreed strongly on the doctrine of predestination.
Both of them were completely convinced that the other was wrong, and yet they respected one another, loved one another, and worked together for the cause of Christ.
As Wesley put it in his sermon on the death of George Whitefield, “Let us keep close the grand scriptural doctrines of a less essential nature,” that the Christian Church has been divided on for ages.
“In these we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’ But meantime, let us hold fast [to] the essentials of ‘the faith…’”
It takes a person with a very strong faith to be able to do and accomplish what Wesley did.
What does Paul start out by saying in our Epistle Lesson for this morning…
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.”
This means that there are disputable matters in the Christian faith!
Not one of us has all the right answers!!!
None of us hold a monopoly on the truth!!!
What Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 is so true and so important for we humans to grasp, internalize and understand: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
He finishes by saying: “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
It is love that is to trump!
When it comes to disputable matters…love must trump!!!
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Too often, we Christians act as though we have the right to pass judgment on other people.
But when we take it upon ourselves to condemn a brother or sister, we are taking upon a position of power that is not ours to take!
It’s like “who died and made you god or king or whatever?”
Every one of us, who call ourselves Christian, are Christ’s servant and if Christ is satisfied there is nothing further to be said!
Notice again that Paul says: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
It is not up to us, it is up to God.
God is in control, and God is much bigger than we sometimes make God out to be.
Paul is confident that when God, the Master of all Christians, judges His servants—they will stand!!!
And praise the Lord for that!
Paul writes in our Scripture passage for this morning: “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”
In the great city of the Roman Empire most of the meat that was sold had been sacrificed to idols.
Could a Christian eat this meat with a clean conscience or had the idols made the food ‘unclean’?
Facing this same situation in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes: “So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one….